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Salmon run up this river and attempt to jump the falls in 
such shoals that the Indians are able to spear them in large 
numbers from a rock approached by means of the platform 
here shown. An expert will land as many as ten or twelve in 
a minute. 

The New 

Garden of Canada 

By Pack-Horse and Canoe through 

Undeveloped New British 



With 48 Full-page Plates and a Map 
of the Author's Route 


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 





When some distinguished American visitors once inquired 
of the late Mr. Gladstone as to the best way of seeing 
the sights of London, the venerable statesman replied, 
"From the top of a 'bus, gentlemen." Similarly, if 
asked how best to see the grandeurs of an untouched 
corner of the Empire, such as New British Columbia, I 
would say, "From the back of a pack-horse." The ship 
of the bush may be slow, and the trail exasperating, but 
this method of travel has its advantages. It brings 
you face to face, not only with new wonders of Nature, 
but with enormous riches — agricultural, mineralogical, 
forestal, industrial — all lying dormant, and silently 
calling to the plucky and persevering. 

I was one of a party of six which set out from the 
western fringe of civilisation in Alberta to make the 
"North-West Passage" by land, threading 1,200 miles 
of wonderful, practically unknown country — the interior 
of New Caledonia, or, as it is now officially called, New 
British Columbia. The party consisted of Harry K. 
Charlton, Montreal; Eobert C. W. Lett, Winnipeg; 
H. D. Lowry, Washington, U.S.A. ; G. Home Russell, 
Montreal ; a photographer, and myself. The first and 
third left the party at Tete Jaune Cache to return. 

The object of my investigations was to form some 
notion of the economic and scenic value of the country 
traversed. This was no easy undertaking, for New 
British Columbia is a territory upon which Nature has 


bestowed her wealth with so lavish a hand that it is 
difficult to form comparative estimates. All that I can 
hope to have done is to have afforded a faint idea of 
the possibilities of the country from the various stand- 
points — farming, mining, lumbering, stock- and fruit- 
raising, investing, sporting, sight-seeing. To do full 
justice to such a task would require volumes, but if the 
interest of the reader in what promises to become the 
most humming corner of British North America is only 
whetted, my efforts will not have been in vain. 

My best thanks are due to the Grand Trunk and 
Grand Trunk Pacific Railways for their valuable assist- 
ance in regard to facilities for making the journey and 
their courteous provision of the photographer, and for 
placing at my service the copyright photographs that 
embellish this volume; also to the hardy, hospitable 
frontiersmen and sourdoughs who, having themselves 
got in on the "ground floor," readily afforded me all 
possible information for the guidance of those who are 
bent upon wooing Fortune in a country which is being 
unlocked and rendered more accessible every day. 

F. A. T. 


1. The " End-of-Steel Town " . 

2. Among the Money-Makers in the Bush 

3. Through the McLeod River Valley 

4. Crossing the Divide into the Athabaska Valley 

5. Jasper Park to the Foothills of the Rockies 

6. Our Climb over the Roche Miette 

7. Swift, the Frontiersman, and his Famous Ranch 

8. The Lonely Trail to the Yellowhead Pass 

9. Picking up the Source of the Fraser River 

10. Mount Robson 

11. Where Trail and River Meet 

12. Down the Upper Fraser in a Dug-Out 

13. Shooting the Grand Canon . 

14. A Metropolis in the Making 

15. On the Skirts of a Bush Fire 

16. The Nechaco Valley, the Land op Plenty 

17. The Domain of the Red Indian . 

18. Through the Endako Valley 

19. A Fertile Corner of the Province 

20. The Bulkley Valley : The Farmer's Treasureland 

21. The Mineral Storehouse op New British Columbia 

22. The End of the Trail 

























23. The Head of Navigation on the Skeena 

24. Down the Treacherous Skeena . 

25. Through the Cascades to the Sea 

26. The " Liverpool of the Pacific " 




Salmon Leap on the Bulkley River 

Facing page 

Temporary Wooden Trestle over Wolf Creek 
Construction Camps and Ferry at the Confluence of 
THE McLeod River and Wolf Creek 

" Bridge Flies " at Work 

Throwing the Diamond Hitch 

The Town op Edson as we found it 
Canada's Latest Acquisition in the Far West 
The Eastern Gateway through the Rockies . . 
The Trail to the Fiddle Creek Hot Springs . . 
In the Swamp near Jasper Lake 


Toasting under Difficulties 

Pack-Train returning across the Back Channel of 

THE Moose River 

How WE crossed the Moose River 

Pack-Train coming into Camp 

The Most Majestic of Canadian Mountains . 

The East Side of Mount Robson 

Exploring Lake Helena 

Where Mountain Trail and River meet 

Natives at Tete Jaune Cache 

Catch of Trout at T^te Jaune Cache . . 
How ONE has to Travel up the Eraser River 
Pitching Camp on the Upper Fraser . . 

The Eternal Quest 

A Trophy from the Forest 






Facing page 

Our Siwash Indians Shooting the Grand Canon . . 148 

The Romany of the River . . . . 152 

Fort George 160 

A Settler's Cabin near Tsinkut Lake, in the Nechaco 

Valley 200 

" Qu'appelle ? " (Who Calls ?) 202 

Mr. J, W. Millan's Ranch at Stoney Creek . . . . 20G 

The Author as Pack-Train Driver 232 

The Bulkley Valley 236 

Turnips Weighing Fifteen Pounds a-piece . . . . 240 

Harvesting in the North- West . . . . . . . . 242 

Oats Thriving where Forest formerly held Sway . . 244 

Tel-kwa 248 

Lake Kathlyn (Chicken's Lake) at the Foot of Hud- 
son's Bay Mountain 254 

Quaint Cantilever Bridge of Timber . . , . . . 266 

Hazelton 272 

A Hudson's Bay Steamer at Hazelton 278 

A Shack among the Trees on the Skeena River . . 280 

Indian Village and Totem Poles at Hazelton . . 282 

KiTSELAS . . 284 

Gap in the Cascade Mountains 288 

Alert Bay . . 290 

One Method of Fishing for Salmon near Prince Rupert 292 

A Glimpse of Prince Rupert . . , . . . . . 294 



The "End-of-Steel Town" 

At the End of the Railway : Wolf Creek — A Motley Throng — Freighters 
and Packers — Prohibition of Alcohol — Pernicious Substitutes — Illicit 
Stills — A Talk with an Engine-driver — Gambling in Land — Bridge- 
building — A Splendid Panorama. 

Wolf Ceeek ! The end of steel ! We tumbled out of 
the Pullman car which had been courteously attached, 
for our special comfort, to the "Wolf Creek Flier," 
which in thirty-six hours speeds over the one hundred 
and twenty-six miles between Edmonton and the point 
we had just gained ! And we were not sorry to detrain. In 
our railway ride across the Dominion we had experienced 
the two extremes in railway travel. Nothing could have 
been more comfortable and luxurious than our gallop 
over the billiard-table-like track of the Grand Trunk 
Pacific from Winnipeg to Edmonton ; nothing could have 
been more exasperating than our crawl from Edmonton 
to Wolf Creek over a skeleton line. The former rested 
every muscle and bone in the body ; the latter brought 
every one of them into vivid consciousness. But with 
the accommodation train you can scarcely expect any- 
thing else. It is not provided for querulous passengers. 
It is there to suit the convenience of the railway 
builders by hauling workmen and material to the rail- 
head, and to meet the demand of those hardy pioneers who 
persist in settling on the land in advance of the railway — 
getting in on the "ground floor" they call it — and who 

B I 


do not mind experiencing considerable hardship in 
gratifying their ambition. 

Our railway ride, then, was ended. We had come 
as far west as the iron horse could bring us, for Wolf 
Creek at the time of our arrival was the most westerly 
point to which the Grand Trunk Pacific — that stupend- 
ous undertaking whereby young Canada has undertaken 
to fasten itself more firmly to the Empire with a 
band of steel, 3,556 miles in length, stretching from 
Atlantic to Pacific — had thrust its steel nose. Our path 
was through the "great beyond," through a practically 
unknown country, a vast wilderness untouched as yet 
by the handmaids of civilisation, where the click of 
the telegraph needle was unknown, and the beat of a 
locomotive piston had never been heard. 

A cosmopolitan crowd greeted us as we rattled into 
the " end-of-steel town" in the misty dawn of the bright 
June Sunday. Though it was but three o'clock, the 
whole settlement was astir, brushed and furbished for 
the Sabbath, for even in the wilds they respect the 
law of one day's rest a week. There were furrow-eyed 
Italians, fair-complexioned Scandinavians, sullen-looking 
Russians, stolid Germans, raw-boned Americans, husky 
Canadians, big-built Irishmen, brawny Scots, and devil- 
may-care English, all rubbing shoulders with one an- 
other, throwing salutations saturated with spicy badinage 
to compatriots on our train — for we carried a motley 

A train pulls into Wolf Creek only twice a week, 
and brings with it the sole news of the outside world 
which the isolated community can obtain. There was 
a wild scramble for remnants of newspapers. The 
postmaster was hard put to it to keep unceremonious 
hands off His Majesty's mails, for the townsfolk swarmed 
round this representative of officialdom like jackals round 
a carcass. With much effort he pushed his way through 
the crowd and strode rapidly to the post office, with a 


bevy of anxious people in his train. This establishment 
was merely a rude "shack " fashioned of logs, only a few 
feet square, and the majority of the people had to kick 
their heels outside until the operation of sorting was 
completed, springing joyously into life when the post- 
master raucously called out names, signifying a letter, 
postcard, parcel, or what not. In the course of ten 
minutes the task was finished ; the waiting throng 
melted away, and the postmaster was left alone in 
solitary state, busily tying up the outgoing mail-bag, 
for the train turns round and starts back to Edmonton 
immediately. The excitement provoked by the arrival 
of the "express " only lasted a few hours, and then the 
people resumed their usual occupations. 

Wolf Creek is a queer kind of town, and queer also 
are its people. You may search the latest map, but 
though you may find the creek, you will not find the town. 
It does not exist. It is like its population — nomadic. It 
belongs to the end-of-steel, and just goes along hand- 
in-hand with it. It never gets left far behind ; it 
never ventures far ahead. The end-of-steelers, as the 
inhabitants of this curious colony are called, are a 
strange race. They seem to delight in clinging to the 
fringe of civilisation and hovering on the border of the 
unknown country beyond ; to revel in roughing it ; to 
make light of privation, living on those who are carry- 
ing the bond of steel forward. They have just as 
restless a disposition as the mechanical box of tricks 
which lays the metals at the rate of four miles or more 
a day. They pitch their tents here to-night ; in the 
dawn of the following day they steal away, and pass 
the night some miles farther on. 

At first one wonders how these two or three hundred 
people live. They seem to lead an aimless existence ; 
to be devoid of all ambition or enterprise. You see 
them on Sunday lounging about, killing time in gossip 
or indulging in games of chance. There is no apparent 


sign of activity about them. Yet on Monday morning 
you will see scarcely a dozen men in the place. They 
have all vanished as if swallowed up in the night. The 
truth is, these men are born hustlers. There is always 
a considerable amount of outside work to be obtained 
round the railhead, and it is here that these roaming 
spirits carve out their fortunes. For instance, although 
the end-of -steel may be here, the preparation of the 
permanent way is proceeding for fifty or a hundred 
miles ahead. The men engaged on this work must 
be tended, must be kept supplied with provisions, con- 
structional material, and a thousand and one other 
things. All the traffic has to be maintained over a 
rude highway, cut and hacked through the wilderness, 
and the end-of-steelers are those who engage in this 
service. The colony is built up for the most part of 
freighters who have advanced right across the Dominion 
with the iron road. Before the advent of this means 
of transportation the freighter plied a thriving trade. 
Less than forty years ago he used to toil over three 
thousand miles to carry provisions and so forth from 
Montreal to Vancouver. They were the good old days, 
and many a pioneer shakes his head sadly when you 
recall them to his mind. Then the freighter's calling 
was worth following ; no matter if it did entail con- 
siderable hardship and peril, the pay was high. Now, 
the competition is so keen that he has to lead a dog's 
life, to toil from misty morn to dewy eve to earn a 
miserable pittance. 

The packer is a consort of the freighter in the end- 
of-steel town. When a railway is being pushed through 
a new country such as the great North-West, commerce 
follows hard on the heels of the track-layer, and is 
continually endeavouring to get ahead. Mining sur- 
veyors, land agents, railway engineers, and such-like, 
crowd to the end-of-steel , and thence make lengthy 
excursions into the country on either side. As travel 


in such districts is only possible with a pack-horse, 
the demand for animals accustomed to the bush is 
continuous and heavy. A young fellow of a roving 
disposition, with a little capital which he can invest in 
horseflesh of the right kind, can always make a good 
thing round the railhead. He lets his horses out on 
hire at four shillings per day, the hirers taking all risk, 
and if he is a sharp fellow he can be sure of earning 
a dollar a day per head for the whole of his stock for 
the best part of the year. The feeding bill during this 
period is eliminated, as the animals are merely turned 
loose to graze. His only out-of-pocket expenses are 
feeding during the winter, which comes out at about 
ten dollars, or a couple of pounds, per head for the 
whole period of enforced idleness. 

A youth to whom the open air appeals, who delights 
in the atmosphere of adventure, even if blessed with 
no capital can get a good start when he has mastered 
the art of packing a horse and throwing the diamond 
hitch, more especially if he is at all good at cooking. 
He can make his eight shillings a day accompanying the 
pack train in the role of cook and packer, and as he 
is put to no expense during the time he is out on the 
trail, being fed by the party engaging the horses, he 
soon finds himself with a comfortable little nest-egg. 

The packer's calling, with all its hard work and 
rough life, is not to be despised by any means, as is 
evidenced by the calibre of the men I met. One was 
the son of a well-ktiown bishop ; another was the heir 
to a British earldom ; the father of a third was a com- 
mercial magnate in London, but this youth despised 
the city life and office routine, so here he was in the 
wilderness of the West. Such men make money easily, 
and it must be confessed that the majority spend it 
easily ; thrift to them is an unknown attribute. When 
they come in from a long journey, and draw their 
"wad," they make quick tracks for Edmonton for a 


"high old time," run through their resources, and then 
come back with an empty pocket to make another 
excursion into the wilds. 

When the track-layer is arrested in its advance by 
some untoward obstacle, then the end-of -steel town 
shakes down for a while in one spot. It was so at 
this point. The broad, tumultuous McLeod Eiver, and 
its turbulent tributary Wolf Creek, disputed the pro- 
gress of the bands of steel. Two heavy bridges were 
necessary ; and you cannot set a few hundred tons of 
steel in position in one day. Consequently the track- 
layer was pushed unceremoniously into a siding, and 
the work of spanning the two waterways taken firmly 
in hand. When this task would be finished only the 
engineers could guess, but the little community hanging 
on the track-layer's flanks realised that a delay of some 
months was inevitable. So they curbed their roving 
spirits as best they could for a time, and sat down 

When I reached Wolf Creek it had been waiting 
some months, and as a result had assumed some 
semblance of permanency. Log shacks had been run 
up in all directions, just how and where their owners 
felt disposed to erect a more comfortable domicile than 
a tent could offer, though there were many white 
canvas homes still in existence. There was no attempt 
at symmetrical or methodical town-planning. It was 
as if a jumble of odd-shaped shacks had been thrown 
into a sieve and had fallen through the meshes, sticking 
just where they fell. There was a livery stable, there 
were two or three restaurants where you could get a 
plainly-cooked square meal for a couple of shillings, a 
pool room, a brace of stores, and other evidences of 
commercial and social activity. I had come through 
towns on the prairie which were neither so big nor so 
prosperous and established as this outpost of civilisation. 
But the look of permanency was all purely superficial. 




The one absorbing topic of conversation was the approxi- 
mate date when the railhead would move forward. 

Twenty years ago the end-of-steel town in North 
America was regarded with dread by the authorities, 
for it was always a hot-bed of lawlessness and crime. 
Every tent, shack and hut housed some human vulture 
of either sex, ready to rob the navvy of his hard-earned 
money ; while murder was considered no more serious 
than rifling a chicken-roost. The gambling-hell pro- 
voked many a fatal quarrel ; the revolver was in more 
request than the lead pencil. The dancing-hall, with 
its gaily caparisoned terpsichorean "exponents," enticed 
the steadier-going workman who abhorred gambling, and 
pitched him downhill into the saloon, where the dregs 
of the distilleries finished him up. Every form of vice 
and debauchery was rife. Canada had one experience 
of this evil, and made firm resolution that such a 
community should never flourish unchecked again. The 
consequence is that although the end-of-steel town is 
still provocative of much anxiety to the authorities, 
it is always held in hand — the machinery of the law 
is ample to cope with any situation that may arise. 

In the first place, legislation enacts that no alcoholic 
liquor is to be sold within a certain distance of a 
public work, such as the building of a railway; the 
workman is debarred from intoxicants as rigorously as 
the Indian. The gambling-hell and all other forms of 
dubious amusement are tabooed. It seems rather hard 
that a navvy should be denied a glass of ale when he 
has finished his day's work ; but prevention is better 
than cure. "No drink, no crime," say the authorities; 
and experience proves them to be correct. The upshot 
is that there is an entire absence of disorder at the end- 
of-steel to-day ; the camps are models of sobriety ; the 
men are healthier, their moral — and here I speak of the 
lower classes of Europeans who migrate to Canada 
— is higher than before they came. Nine out of ten 


men can point to a nice-sized nest-egg, the accumulated 
reward for the sweat of their brow. Of course there 
is no curbing some spirits. If a man is determined "to 
go on the jag " he will do so. Ko power on earth can 
stop him, even if he has to make a journey of a 
hundred or more miles to gratify his desires. He does 
it once ; he does it twice ; then probably he reflects , 
and will turn over a new leaf. He finds that the game 
is not worth the candle, and consequently settles down 
and becomes a respectable member of the community. 

Yet this proscription of alcohol by the authorities 
has, in a way, defeated its own object. The men, 
being denied what may be best described as legal 
alcohol, resort to anything that is a more or less efficient 
substitute. The redskin found this out. He, as 
is well known, must not be served with whisky or 
any other alcoholic liquor properly so called. Yet what 
is the result? The prohibited have ascertained that 
there are innumerable commodities on the market, under 
other guises, which are more potent in their effect 
than a straightforward alcoholic beverage. Red ink 
is one article you must keep out of the men's way ; 
they will swallow it with avidity, for it contains a 
good percentage of low-grade alcohol. Another popular 
refreshment is lemon-extract, such as the housewife 
utilises for the flavouring of table delicacies ! But the 
drink par excellence and in greatest demand is a certain 
patent medicine. This is as common in the end- 
of-steel town and among the construction camps as 
whisky-and-soda is in London, and its effects are far 
worse, inasmuch as the preparation contains 80 per 
cent, of pure alcohol. A certain flavouring extract is 
even a greater offender in this respect, for the alcohol 
percentage is about 95 per cent. The workmen and 
Indians drink it like water, freely paying twelve shillings, 
and in some cases a sovereign, for a bottle of the 
apparently harmless flavouring concoction which in the 


city costs a shilling. In fact, the workmen and Indians 
are open to drink any patent medicine that has alcohol 
as its basis. 

Then the lower members of the end-of-steel com- 
munity concoct their own liquors and vend them in a 
clandestine manner. This illicit establishment has the 
illusory name of "Blind Pig." Here, if the proprietor is 
well favoured by fortune, and your credentials as to 
not being a spy are satisfactory, you can secure a 
thimbleful of a well-known Irish or Scotch brand of 
whisky for a shilling, or a bottle from ten shillings 
upwards. A bottle which we obtained cost us 12s. 6d. 
If the owner cannot smuggle in the genuine article 
he has no compunction in making up a concoction 
which is colloquially known as "rock-cut." It is more 
potent than the famous stogies which Mark Twain 
was accustomed to present to his visitors. It is brewed 
from dried peaches, apples or other fruits, which are 
stewed for a prolonged period with sugar, and the drained 
liquor is soused heavily with tobacco juice, opium or 
some other powerful narcotic, producing a most diabolical 
intoxicating drink, the effects of which are terrible. 

I had one experience of it — that was sufficient for a 
lifetime. Within ten minutes of swallowing the liquor 
every part of the human engine sprang into active 
revolt. My head spun round faster than any teetotum 
yet designed, throbbed like a steam-hammer, and felt 
as if it were bursting in all directions. The abdominal 
muscles were contracted to the uttermost limit, while 
the whole frame vibrated with an intense chilling sen- 
sation. One could not walk ; the limbs were as if 
paralysed, and one simply blundered and groped along. 
Some days elapsed before the effects of that glass of 
liquor wore off, and ever after, until we got over the 
confines of the "dry district," any bottle of a known 
brand, the seals of which bore the slightest trace of 
having been tampered with, was left severely alone. 


for he who drives the "BUnd Pig" has no scruples in 
making his poison take the place of any brand of liquor, 
whether it be whisky, brandy or rum. Yet these men 
in the woods swallow it like water, and reck not of 
what they may suffer. 

The brewer of the "rock-cut" plies his nefarious 
calling to distinct personal profit, until the strong arm 
of the law swings down on him, smashing his illicit 
still, and mulcting him to the tune of £10 for the first 
offence. The vendor of flavouring extracts and patent 
medicines, however, escapes scot free, as these concen- 
trated alcohols are recognised by the law, because of 
the labels, as commodities of culinary and therapeutic 
value, notwithstanding their higher percentage of pure 
alcohol. One man we met boasted that he had sold 
six dozen bottles of extract, which cost him a shilling 
apiece, to the Indians for 12s. 6d. per bottle. Judg- 
ing from the behaviour of that band of natives which 
we met, their crazy dancing, wild shrieks, howls, and 
general indications of mad intoxication, this extract could 
beat whisky to fits in giving a man a "jag." 

As we did not intend to start out on the trail until 
the Monday morning, we spent the day wandering 
around the country. The broken, serrated humps of the 
foothills of the Kocky Mountains, garbed from top to 
bottom in forest, stretched from the west to the north. 
The expanse between rolled away gently in a mass of 
dark green. Here and there columns of blue smoke 
could be observed curling lazily skywards, betraying 
the activity of some homesteader clearing his land. The 
air was bracing, for Wolf Creek rests at an altitude of 
2,700 feet, and the hot blasts of summer were tempered 
by the cooling currents blowing off the ice-capped Eockies 
beyond the horizon. 

The constructional engineers' locomotive was standing 
beside our Pullman, and the driver lapsed into con- 
versation. But the topic was the eternal one that is 


discussed throughout Canada and America — the quest for 
the Almighty Dollar. Every man you meet is ready 
to canvass some proposition or to propound some scheme 
for turning vv'ords and deeds into money. I thought I 
should escape it when civilisation was all but left behind. 
But no ! Here every man was infected with the same 
fever. The engine-driver's particular malady was town- 
sites. He had bought some plots in a new town for 
^20 or £25 apiece, and had been offered double that 
figure. Should he accept or hold on? — that was the 
question as it appealed to him. In another deal he 
had "cleaned up" £100 in one case, while a third 
represented a clear profit of over £90. It says much 
for the thrift of the man that he could go out into the 
open market and purchase land in this manner. He was 
as keen a speculator as your Stock Exchange plunger. 
Certainly the opportunities of making money in Canada 
quickly are unique, and it is astonishing the class of 
men who venture into this maelstrom. "Make or 
break " is the average Canadian's motto, or, as one 
reckless whole-hogger put it, "I'll either be a million- 
aire or a jail-bird." I afterwards met a train conductor 
who had speculated in land, and had amassed sufficient 
capital to ensure a certain comfortable income. He 
was seriously debating the question of throwing up 
the New World and coming to England to live in 

Land is the great gamble throughout Canada, and 
fortunes are being piled up in this manner every day. 
Town-sites are the most tempting prizes, though good 
farming country will always attract. But the former 
is that with the greater number of adherents. When a 
town is on the boom, the prices that are paid for sites 
are tremendous. 

To argue against such speculation is useless. They 
tell you that the whole country from Halifax to Prince 
Eupert is booming, that prices of land are going up — 


up — up. In this statement they are certainly correct, 
and they can enumerate cases of the sudden accumula- 
tion of wealth through the sale of land. Take Saskatoon, 
for instance. In 1901 it boasted only 113 inhabitants 
all told; to-day it has over 14,000. In the early days 
one man bought two adjacent plots on a corner. He 
built his own shop on the inner plot, leaving the comer 
space vacant, since such sites always command the 
readiest sale and fetch the highest prices. When Saska- 
toon boomed, a commercial house cast envious eyes on 
this corner vacancy, and the upshot of the deliberations 
was that the owner, who had bought it for about £50, 
sold it for iG12,000! And it is the same all through the 

More amusing, perhaps, was the case of Edson. My 
engine-driver was particularly anxious about its future. 
His personal impression was that a big boom was in 
prospect. He had acquired some plots and was resolved 
to "hang on " to them, for the time being at all events. 
The men working on the railway have seen the rise 
of these western towns and the way property has 
soared in value. So they know what they are talking 
about, and, what is more, being on the spot, building 
the railway that is to make the future of a new com- 
munity, they are able to profit to advantage. Shortly 
after starting on our overland journey we were destined 
to see this town-that-is-to-be in its very first stages, 
since Edson lay directly on our path. 

Presently my engine-driver acquaintance had to go 
to the scene of the bridge-building operations. With 
his hand on the regulator he sung out, "Care to go 
right to the end-of-steel and see the bridge going up? 
They are hard at it. It's Sunday, I know, but that 
don't stop 'em from raking in the dollars. And I can 
promise you a magnificent view in the bargain." 

I accepted his offer with alacrity and sprang on the 
engine. Like all such locomotives employed for the 


rough-and-tumble of railway construction, where knocks 
are hard and frequent, it was a decrepit mass of moving 
steel, wheezy and rattling in all its bones. But it 
serves its purpose, and though apparently in the last 
stages of senile debility, was still good for many years 
to come. We moved, or rather rocked and lurched, 
along a mile of track still under construction, with the 
rails all sixes and sevens, and indifferently secured to 
the crazy sleepers beneath. After crawling over the 
spidery wooden trestle temporarily providing commu- 
nication across Wolf Creek, we pulled through a cutting 
on to the eastern bank of the McLeod Eiver. 

A terrific din assailed the ears, reverberating strangely 
in the otherwise silent river valley. The McLeod 
is a typical Canadian waterway, and offers a striking 
instance of the powerful erosion of soft friable soil and 
rock that has taken place during the flight of ages. 
The river is no more than 200 feet broad at this point, 
but has cut such a deep channel as to necessitate the 
erection of a massive steel bridge 600 feet in length, 
with a height of 180 feet in the centre. The "bridge 
flies" were toiling as if for their dear lives, setting and 
bolting the ponderous ribs of the metallic structure 
together, for the engineers had ^et down a time by 
which it was to be completed, and things were cut so 
fine that no stoppage could be made, even for Sunday. 
The work, when I arrived, was half finished, the men 
being engaged in throwing out a span from a massive 
lofty concrete pier that had been erected on an island 
in mid-stream. An engine slowly backed a train loaded 
with the weighty dissected limbs of metal. A crane 
dipped its head and grabbed the foremost piece, whipped 
it into the air, and, firmly holding it in its mouth, 
rapidly ran out to the end of the bridge, where the 
human flies, working in mid-air and clinging to flimsy 
footholds, seized it, guided it to its position, and then 
rapidly slipped in bolts which secured it to its fellow 


for the time being. Another crane was laboriously 
stooping over the side of the bridge picking up huge 
baulks of timber from the river bank 120 feet below, 
whizzing them up through the air, and gently setting 
them down here or there to assist in the erection work. 
On precarious platforms boys were strenuously puffing 
portable furnaces with bellows, in which the rivets were 
being heated. When a bolt was white hot a man 
grabbed it with his tongs, and with a " Heigh-ho " sent 
it flying through the air to another boy standing on a 
swinging plank some twelve or sixteen feet above. This 
boy deftly caught the hissing heated rivet in a bucket, 
swung it round to another workman standing near by, 
who in turn seized the sizzling rivet once more in a 
pair of tongs and slipped it into its appointed hole, 
when another " fly " drove it home safe and sound with 
a few raps of the pneumatic riveter. 

Watching a bridge grow in this manner is intensely 
fascinating. The men swing from point to point of 
the structure like monkeys, and, heedless of the raging 
torrent below, walk narrow planks slung in mid-air, and 
which swing with their movement. Their temerity 
makes you shudder; the height at which they are 
working produces a feeling of nauseating giddiness. 
When one of the men invited me to come out on the 
outermost rib and watch another rib being set in position 
I politely declined. "What! Give you a cold shiver 
down your backbone?" he grinned. "Oh, you'd soon 
get accustomed to it." But I was not to be persuaded. 

Climbing the bank of the cutting through which the 
bridge is approached, I looked towards the west and 
beheld one of the most magnificent panoramas it is 
possible to conceive. Stretching away from my feet 
in gentle undulations was an endless ocean of forest. 
It was trees, trees, trees on every side, with their 
sombre, majestic tone of dark green. Here and there 
the prevailing colour was splashed with brown where 


a bush fire had ravaged the vegetation recently, scorch- 
ing the life from the tree-tops and branches ; or a blaze 
of purple as the setting sun glinted upon the tall gaunt 
dead trunks, the sad monuments of a bygone conflagra- 
tion, whose barkless sides had become silvered under 
the agency of wind and weather ; or a ragged blot of 
vivid emerald green where luxuriantly growing bush was 
striving to conceal the devastation wrought by the enemy 
of the forest. Winding to and fro through the sea of 
colour like a ribbon was the placid blue water of the 
McLeod River on its way to the slopes of the divide. 

This ocean of vegetation stretched right away to 
the horizon, over which hung a thin streak of cloud, 
like a blanket of mist reflecting a golden sheen in the 
sunshine. But above this film could be seen a more 
impressive spectacle. Through the haze could be faintly 
descried, rising spectre-like, the ice-crowned points of 
the Eockies, whose glaciers, caught in the rays of the 
sun, sparkled like gigantic diamonds slung in mid-air 
a hundred miles away. The row of scintillating pinnacles 
runs diagonally to the route of the line, which, in order 
to preserve the requisite easy grade, keeps to the crest 
of the rolling hills, so that west-bound travellers over 
this system will have a magnificent vista for some 
three hours before they dash through the grim portals 
and plunge into the welter of eternally white-mantled 
peaks. This view at sunset afforded one a spectacle 
difficult to parallel. The sun sank lower and lower, the 
mists of waning day gathered over the sinuous streak 
of the river, blotting out the country beneath, while the 
sky was transformed into a mass of glowing fire, causing 
the ice-caps, glittering with ever-changing hues, to stand 
out in vivid contrast in mid-air, like some celestial 
wonder. At last the hill-tops faded gradually from view, 
and the mass of snow and ice suddenly changed to an 
intensely cold blue in the darkening mantle of night. 

Among the Money-Makers in the Bush 

Striking Camp — The Pack-Train — Horses and their Leaders — Pioneers — 
A Profit of 2,000 per cent.— Big Eddy— Bog-holes and Creeks- 
A Teamster's Life — Our First Night Out — In an Engineer's Camp — 
" Canned Music " — Cooks in Request in the Bush — The "Station Man " 
— Payment by Results — Openings for Engineers — A Town in the 
" is-to-be " Stage — Rapid Rises in Land Values. 

It was a raw, damp morning. The clouds hung low 
and threatening. The distant wavy line of the horizon 
stood out black against the grey of the heavens. The 
soddened soil — for it had been raining heavily through 
the night — threw back a dismal reeking moisture which 
penetrated the thick woollen clothes we had donned 
ready for "roughing it." 

The camp was in the throes of activity. The per- 
sonal impedimenta, cooking utensils, bedding and pro- 
visions had been so divided up that no animal was 
called upon to carry a load exceeding 200 lb. The 
last diamond hitch was thrown, the bell boy sprang 
astride, and with a seductive whistle induced the leading 
pack-horse to trot along in his wake. The tethers of 
the saddle horses were slipped, and the train of the 
bush moved off. 

The camp was at the top of the eastern bank of the 
McLeod river, just below the confluence with Wolf 
Creek. The descent, a matter of 300 feet, was steep, 
and the soft soil was as slippery as ice under the action 
of the rain, so the horses either tobogganed down on 
their haunches or sawed the decline. At the bottom, 
owing to the depth and swift current of the water, a 



ferry had been provided to maintain communication 
with the opposite bank until the railway bridge was 

As we serpentined up the opposite bank we gave 
a last peep at Wolf Creek, with its shacks and tents 
straggling all over the countryside. Scarcely a sign of 
life was to be seen, for the end-of-steelers had dipped 
into the turmoil of labour for another six days. We 
could just descry a small crowd around the post office, 
the rendezvous for gossip and conversation. Then the 
trail bent sharply at a right angle, and the bush 
blotted Wolf Creek out for all time so far as we were 

A pack-train is at the same time the easiest and 
the most difficult vehicle to drive. For the first few 
days out everything is sixes and sevens. The animals 
are fresh and restive, darting every few minutes into 
the bush, causing the packs to get shifted and slackened 
by consrtant violent contact with trees and bushes. 
Delay after delay occurs while the loads are tightened 
up, and the frisky animals provoke the packer to 
violence. In the course of a day or so, however, the 
animals chum up, and take up their positions in the 
train, and this order they will maintain till their 
journey's end. Woe betide an animal which attempts 
to get out of his rotation: his colleagues will bite, 
kick, and worry him until he returns to his settled 
position. It is curious how a bunch of thirty horses 
will resolve themselves into small cliques, will keep 
constantly together, and will act in concert to repel 
an intruder. One horse will always assume the lead, 
and will not relinquish the van in any circumstances 
whatever, not hesitating to defend his post with teeth 
and heels. 

The country through which the trail wound its tor- 
tuous way w^as mostly covered with thick bush, in which 
young jack pine and poplar flourished luxuriantly, the 


latter testifying to the richness of the soil. It is an 
axiom among experienced Canadian agriculturists that 
where poplar thrives any produce will grow, and land 
covered with this tree, no matter how dense and appal- 
ling the task may appear, will pay to clear. Jack pine, 
on the other hand, has a preference for gravel, but 
I saw on frequent occasions large tracts of this tree 
growing in first-class soil. Still, taken on the whole, 
the Canadian aphorism is the best guide when cruising 
about for arable land in a scrub-covered country. The 
whole of the territory we were traversing had been 
devastated by a bush fire some years ago, as was 
evident from the outlines of the thick trunks rotting 
on the ground in a bed of moss, building up that thick 
vegetable top soil which brings such joy to the farmer 
and so many dollars to his banking account. 

The settler, however, had not invaded this district 
very extensively ; it is the last corner of Alberta which 
will be turned from forest into wheat- or vegetable- 
growing expanses. Out on the prairies there is still 
plenty of perfectly open land, which can be instantly 
brought into a revenue-producing condition. It is on 
such land that the plough can work in the spring and 
the harvester in the autumn of the first year. One 
cannot blame the canny farmer for preferring such 
conditions, for the prairie provides the shortest and 
easiest road to affluence. 

Occasionally, however, we met an energetic young 
man with his wife and family who had decided to make 
a new home in the wilderness. The prospect of awful 
isolation had no terrors for them ; the arduousness of 
clearing was no deterrent. The prairie schooners — the 
capacious box-like wagons mounted on four wheels and 
drawn by two horses — contained the whole of their 
worldly goods and chattels, as well as agricultural im- 
plements, and they were crawling along slowly to the 
accompaniment of the drivers' lusty singing. 


These men do not know what trouble or worry is : 
they are too intoxicated with enthusiasm and buoyant 
optimism. These are the men who are opening up the 
North-West of Canada, and they are the type of workers 
the Dominion wants to-day. They go on to the land 
with practically no cash resources, but from the time 
the first tree is felled their possession enhances in 
value, and when the railway comes along, bringing in 
its train an endless stream of agriculturists with money 
in their pockets searching for partly developed farms, 
then these pioneers make money. They may have to 
wait years for a purchaser, or perhaps only a few 
months ; but sooner or later the buyer comes their way 
and enables them to make a profit of anything from 
2,000 per cent, upwards on their original investment. 

The country is gently rolling for the whole of the 
distance between Wolf Creek and the foothills of the 
Rockies, being somewhat in the form of high, wide 
ridges, separated from one another by yawning val- 
leys, through which broad rivers make their way. 
These waterways in the distant past, wider and more 
formidable than they are to-day, brought down rich 
deposits from the mountains, and shed this alluvium 
in thick layers for a great distance on either side 
of the present channels. But they will shrink still 
more as the country is opened up ; the moisture which 
now merely drains into the rivers will be sucked up by 
the roots of the thirsty crops. The valleys for the 
most part have steep slopes, terraces as it were, on 
which fruit cultivation should be highly profitable. The 
stretches on the river banks make splendid meadow- 
land for grazing, but the soil is so rich and nutritious 
that it should be utilised for "truck" gardening. 
There is not sufficient prevailing level to render it 
suitable for wheat-growing. But cereals are not the 
most remunerative form of farming in all parts of 
Canada. Stock raising, especially of swine and cattle, 


is far more promising, as the demands, not only of 
Canada, but of other countries, are far ahead of the 

We were not yet on the "lonely trail." Twenty-two 
miles ahead of us, at Big Eddy, a huge timber trestle 
was going up, and as contracts and time wait for no 
man, all material had to be transported to the site by 
road. A continuous chain of wagons hauled by horses 
or oxen and loaded with heavy baulks of timber, some 
measuring as much as 60 feet in length by 10 inches 
or so in breadth and thickness, was toiling laboriously 
westwards, while an equally interminable procession of 
empty vehicles was coming east. There is no rule of 
the road. Indeed, it is not wide enough to admit of 
any such observance of etiquette, for the trees have 
been cleared on either side of the trail only sufficiently 
to admit of the passage of a pair of wheels. A laden 
and an empty vehicle travelling in opposite directions 
meet. The empty one blunders straight into the bush 
to permit the other to pass. If it gets stuck in the 
process — well, the driver has to get out of the hole as 
best he can. The trail was churned up into a thick 
mud, which at places was two feet or so in depth, and 
as sticky as treacle. And these bog-holes are fiendish 
traps. The unsuspecting laden vehicle lurches forward ; 
then there is a wicked squelch as the wagon tilts over 
dangerously to one side, burying the wheel to the axle. 
The driver flogs and urges his beasts to greater effort. 
The frightened animals tug and pull in desperation, 
assisted by the driver and his mate, standing knee-deep 
in the slime, with shoulders to the wheels, and thus 
laboriously the wagon is extricated from the quagmire. 

But the negotiation of the creeks is the severest 
tax on teamster and team alike. The drop on the one 
side is often so steep that the wheels have to be 
locked, and the wagon steadied in its descent by 
a rope snubbed round a tree-stump. At the critical 


moment the wheels are released and the rope uncoupled, 
so that the animals may have the advantage of a little 
declivity to rush the creek and gain the opposite bank. 

"Kow then! Git up! Whoo ! Up! Up!" The 
driver savagely slashes his team; they give a plunge 
forward, the wagon creaks and rolls, and with suddenly 
acquired impetus it flops into the water, the team 
straining every muscle to breaking point in order to 
reach the other side before momentum is lost. Some- 
times the wagon will roll drunkenly through the water 
and up the opposite bank with the force of a battering 
ram ; more often, as it drops into the creek bed, the 
latter sucks it down and it is tightly embraced in 
the soft ooze. Then the men have to wade possibly 
up to their thighs, prising, levering, and using evei-y 
artifice to get the vehicle out of the hole. In one case 
where a "rush " through a creek twelve feet wide had 
failed, I saw combined animal and manual labour 
force the laden wagon forward two feet in half an 
hour ! If another wagon is coming along its team will 
be unhitched and coupled up to the foremost vehicle to 
haul it out of the morass, a similar compliment being 
paid to the second w^agon. There has to be consider- 
able mutual assistance to get wagons over such roads 
as these, and every "stall in the mud" only makes 
the "bad place" worse from the struggle that takes 

The teamster's lot is to be pitied indeed. He is 
the epitome of "roughing it." He toils from dawn to 
twilight, with only brief cessations for his meals. In 
this particular instance the material had to be hauled 
twenty-two miles, and for the round journey of forty- 
four miles the man received £3. Out of this he had 
to pay a labourer, who perchance received 8s. a day 
together with his food, the teamster providing the 
trolley and team. By dint of hard work he could cover 
the forty-four miles in a little less than three days, 


if the weather and roads were kind to him. On his 
wagon he carried a bale or two of hay for his animals, 
and a small box filled with flour, sugar, pork and 
beans (the staple diet of the bush), tea, milk, and a 
few tins of fruit. At twelve they pulled up alongside 
the trail, the horses were baited, a fire was lighted, 
and a hastily prepared meal hurriedly swallowed. Off 
again immediately, and no further stop until approach- 
ing dark, when the wagon was hauled a bit on one 
side, the horses were unhitched, hobbled and turned loose 
in the bush to graze, camp was pitched and a roaring 
camp-fire kindled. After supper, more often taken only 
in the light of the camp-fire, the two men stretched 
a canvas sheet above them if it were wet, curled up in 
their blankets, and went to sleep thol'oughly worn out. 
If the weather were fine the "fly" was dispensed with, 
the men slumbering in the open beneath the star- 
spangled canopy. At sunrise they were astir, and while 
one tramped off through the reeking wet bush in search 
of the horses, the other prepared breakfast. When 
the horses were brought in, the matutinal meal was 
hastily disposed of, the horses were hitched to the wagon, 
and the road was struck once more. 

Such is the round , day after day ; and the teamster 
may be able to scrape together a net profit of about 
£S a week. It is a life with no recreation ; nothing to 
vary the monotony. No wonder the men cultivate the 
boorishness of a bear, the hang-dog expression of a 
jaded cab-horse, and the conversation of a deaf-mute. 
But they are worshipping the Almighty Dollar, and 
that in the North American Continent to-day is the 
chief aim of existence. 

As we pushed farther and farther into the bush the 
trail became heavier and heavier. The heavens opened 
and let down the rain in bucketfuls. Our slickers pro- 
tected the upper parts of our bodies, but our boots 
became water- logged , and the brushing of the branches 


overhanging the trail whipped the face like a lash. The 
cavalcade soon assumed an appearance of profound 
dejection. Conversation, which for an hour past had 
been flagging, now ceased altogether. Each of us was 
wrapped in his own thoughts, momentarily fearing a 
sudden introduction to Mother Earth, when the horse 
might flop into a concealed mud-hole and throw you 
over the pommel of the saddle. 

The horses also toiled along with diminished pace, 
as if they, too, had contracted a "fit of the blues." 
If you endeavoured to shake off the melancholia by 
whistling, your impromptu siffling had an uncanny tone, 
while to sing was to encourage the woods to throw back 
your sounds in hollow mockery of your discomfort. 
Even the packers abandoned invective and rode along 
in moody silence. The feeling that your couch would 
be the cold, wet ground or a semi-quagmire did not 
inspire any pleasantries. If you attempted to liven up 
things by cracking a joke you were regarded with a 
scowl by your companions. The best thing in such 
circum'stances is to ride along wrapped in your own 

It had been an'anged that the first night out should 
be spent at one of the Grand Trunk Pacific resident 
engineer's camps, the day's ride being made short pur- 
posely to get things into ship-shape. We had come up 
as far as Wolf Creek with the young engineer, and 
he had cordially invited us to partake of the camp's 
hospitality. We were not a bit sorry when at last the 
strains of a phonograph, grinding out "Put on your 
old grey bonnet," struck our ears, for we had been in 
the saddle a matter of four hours, and our anatomy, 
unaccustomed to maintaining its equilibrium on the 
saw-edge of a pack-horse's backbone, bore painful 
testimony to the ordeal. 

These camps are distributed along the grade at 
intervals of about twelve miles, the duties of the en- 


gineer being to supervise construction, and to check the 
work as it is carried out. Each camp numbers about 
half a dozen young fellows all told, comprising chain- 
men, rod-man, transit-man, cook, and possibly one or 
two other supernumeraries. It is a somewhat lonely 
life, since the camps are ahead of construction, so that 
the little colony is entirely dependent upon its own 
resources for amusement and the profitable utilisation of 
leisure moments. "Canned music" offers a staple form 
of recreation, and keeps the party in touch with the 
musical world and the latest triumphs of the vaudeville 
art. The phonograph is started up about six o'clock 
in the evening, and is kept continuously at it until 
bed-time, only to be resumed directly the gong awakes 
the sleepers in the morning, and to be kept churning 
music until the party starts off for the day's labours. A 
musically accompanied shave, toilet and breakfast is 
somewhat novel, but after we had passed the third camp 
we all keenly anticipated the time when we should be 
beyond the strains of this concentrated music-hall, 
orchestra and concert platform. 

The little colony at this camp were indeed industrious. 
In their spare time a lofty tower for experiments in wire- 
less telegraphy had been built up ; a stream just below 
was being dammed, a primitive pile-driver having been 
fashioned for driving logs of wood to form a barrage, 
for securing sufficient head of water to run a small water 
turbine whereby the camp could be electrically lighted ; 
while a small cleared patch in the bush testified that 
horticulture had one or two enterprising exponents. 

The members of the camp are for the most part 
young fellows to whom the lonely life appeals; while, 
owing to the absence of inducements to spend, they 
unavoidably save their money. They make their quarters 
snug and comfortable, and their employers see to it that 
no complaint can be offered in regard to the commissariat 
or the cook. I can vouchsafe for this fact from personal 


experience. In these resident engineers' camps I secured 
a far greater variety of more nourishing food, more 
appetisingly and better prepared, than I had enjoyed in 
a first-class Canadian hotel. Certainly many of the 
latter establishments could not point to such a master- 
hand in their kitchens as these camps possessed. The 
oooks, for the most part, I found to be young fellows 
from home, who like the life, and consider a monthly 
salai-y of £12 clear a good wage. And it may be pointed 
out that this rate is not confined to the railways. Mining, 
lumbering, prospecting — in fact, all the camps out in the 
West pay this figure, and it is not a bit difficult for a 
young man to save £120 or more a year, for his 
requirements in the way of clothing are obviously 
very limited. One young man whom I met in the wilds, 
presiding over the kitchen of a mining camp, stated that 
he had left London twelve years before, had been in 
steady employment ever since he reached the Far West, 
and had contrived to bank over £1,000 as the reward of 
his culinary skill. The demand for good cooks in the 
West is steady, for the employers know that nowadays 
the skill of the chef has much to do with the content- 
ment of a small community in the wilds, a satisfied 
"little Mary" more than counteracting innumerable 
irksome deficiences. 

In the railway camp no complaint on the side of 
insufficiency of food could be raised. We sat down to 
an evening meal. There was infinite variety, and every- 
thing in plenty. Although extensive resort has neces- 
sarily to be made to canned foods, an expert cook can 
ring the changes pretty frequently thereon, while if he 
is a good pastry hand and can concoct delectable dainties 
in the way of pies — well, his comrades will forgive his 
lack of prowess in the preparation of other dishes, for 
to the Westerner, pie, whether it be mince, pumpkin, 
raisin, pineapple, peach, or anything else, is the great 
gustatory delight. 


Railway construction was in active progress near the 
camp, and here the resident engineer introduced me 
to a phase of hfe which is not seen outside America, 
and is depicted to its fullest degree in Canada. This 
was the "station man" — not the superintendent of an 
aggregation of buildings and administrative machinery, 
but what may be perhaps best described as the very 
bottom rung of the ladder of success. 

A railway contract is divided into stretches of 100 
feet each. The basis of the contract is payment by the 
cubic yard, the survey plans and specifications showing 
how much earth it is necessary to remove from this 
point to be dumped at that. Instead of engaging a 
large staff of navvies working at so much an hour, the 
contractor encourages the labourer to become his own 
master. A man can take over a "station," as a length 
of 100 feet is called, and is paid so much a yard for 
excavation ; this sum is, of course, less than that which 
the contractor receives, the latter's profit being repre- 
sented by the difference between the two amounts. The 
scale of payment varies according to the nature of the 
earth worked : so much for ordinary earth, or "common " 
as it is called, a little more for loose rock, and a 
higher rate for solid rock. The last, as it involves 
drilling and blasting, is generally taken over by the 
most expert hands, but anyone who can wield a 
pick and shovel is competent to tackle the other classifi- 

Now, it is perfectly obvious that under this arrange- 
ment the more work a man does the more he earns ; 
his prosperity is governed entirely by his industry. On 
this particular station it was mostly "common" and 
loose rock. The sole tools required were pick, shovel, 
crowbar, wheelbarrow, and one or two planks. The 
station men I saw here were three burly Galicians, 
raggedly clad — for any clothes suffice for this work — and 
they were toiling like slaves. They had co-operated 


on the job, and were wrestling with "muskeg " — in other 
words, swampy ground formed of water-logged, decaying 
vegetable matter. They were up to their knees in a 
viscous, black-looking slime, which had spattered them 
from head to foot. In appearance they were more 
disreputable than a mud-lark at home. But they were 

As I swung down into the cut and plodded through 
the ooze with the resident they gave us a cheery hail, 
but did not stop a second in their task. 

"Say, what do you get for shifting this?" 

"Twenty-two cents a yard." 

That was practically elevenpence. It seemed small 
enough pay, in all conscience, looking at it from the 
uninitiated point of view. 

"And what can you make a day?" 

"All d'pen's upon th' time o' year. Th' longer th' 
day th' more we can do." 

"What are you making at the present moment?" 

One of the trio paused and gave a sly look at the 
resident, as if he might be giving himself away. Then, 
as he resumed his labours, he blurted out: 

"Well, the three o' us are cleaning up 35 dollars 
a day." 

The resident nodded affirmatively ; he knew by his 
returns of excavation accomplished. I figured it out. 
That meant excavating some 160 cubic yards, for which 
they received, roughly, £1 between them — practically 
47s. a day each. 

"And how long do you put in to make that? " 

"From kin to k'int. An' we stop for nothin'." 

It certainly looked like it, for they never slackened 
chopping out huge chunks of the sticky mass during 
conversation. The resident explained that the collo- 
quialism meant from dawn to dusk. It was now past 
nine o'clock in the evening, and yet there were no 
signs of cessation. Those three Galicians certainly 


seemed bent on putting every minute of daylight to 
profitable account. 

Working under these conditions is somewhat of a 
dog's life. The men are out on the job about four in 
the morning and slog incessantly until seven, when 
they make a short pause for breakfast. This is gulped 
down, and they are at it again until the mid-day hour 
compels another brief respite for a scanty meal. This 
is quickly digested, and then ensues a straight toil until 
six in the evening, when supper is disposed of, follow^ed 
by a fourth spell of work till fading daylight compels 
abandonment until dawn. 

Such is the round, day in and day out, with Sunday 
as the only break. The men live in httle rude shacks, 
and the day of enforced idleness — from their point of 
view — is spent in washing what clothes they require 
and the performance of other domestic duties for the 
ensuing week. Their food, though wholesome, is re- 
duced to the minimum, pork and beans being the staple 
diet, for these men have to board themselves, and con- 
sequently they reduce living expenses to the minimum. 
The work is hard, but it carries its own reward. They 
only ply their calling during the summer months, when 
the days are longest, and put in the other six months 
on a homestead. 

This is one way in which Canada is becoming peopled 
with a solid backbone, for these men get their land 
practically free, perform the necessary improvements 
prescribed by the homestead law, and while the produce 
on their farms is maturing they are earning from ;tlO 
to £12 a week upwards. They carefully husband their 
wages, and by the time they have secured the patent 
for their farms are comfortably well off and have the 
capital in hand for the purchase of agricultural imple- 
ments and so forth. 

Galicians and a few Irishmen form the station men 
for the most part, especially where work is in "common." 


Scandinavians and Italians figure on the heavy rock 
work, for they are born "rock-hogs," as the drillers and 
blasters are called. The average navvy regards the 
station man and his work with disdain, preferring to 
toil for Jte a month all found, ignoring the fact that 
the station man is on the way to become his own master. 
Many railway sub-contractors of substance in Canada 
to-day numbered a 100-foot length as their first start, 
and had not a penny of capital to their name. 

Canada offers a great field for the young engineer. 
Wages are good and promotion is rapid, according to a 
man's merit. There is many a youth in the Old Country 
who, when he issues from his apprenticeship in civil 
engineering, could "make good" in the West. The 
British engineer is preferred, as he generally has a good 
all-round knowledge, whereas the native railway engineer 
is specialised in a single branch of his profession. As 
a rule he has made his way up the ladder from the 
humble position of axeman, lopping down trees for the 
surveying party at £7 a month all found. The young 
engineer from Britain, if he were given an axe with 
which to start, would probably throw it down in disgust 
and march off in high dudgeon, feeling that this was 
a slur upon his abilities and a poor reward for his 
apprenticeship. But he has got to learn how to wield 
an axe, and he might just as well be paid for gaining 
that knowledge as not. Next he will take the position 
of rear chainman, walking over the tumbled country 
with the 100-foot measuring length. The same wage, 
£7 a month, will be the reward for this labour, and 
then he will graduate to front chainman at £8 a 
month, after which he will receive a slight increase in 
salary to £9 a month as rodman. 

If his brains warrant it, he will then make a big 
jump, both in position and salary, to instrument-man, 
entrusted with the transit and level, at £15 monthly. 
This position achieved, and his skill being sufficiently 


marked, he becomes resident engineer as soon as a 
vacancy occurs. He will be responsible then for the 
construction of a section of track varying from one to 
twelve miles in length, according to its character and 
situation, at an inclusive monthly wage of £25. His 
next rise is to assistant divisional engineer, supervising 
on the spot a whole section of line at £35 a month. 
As divisional engineer he will command a salary of 
£60 per mensem, and then his future rests in his own 

This may seem a long ladder, but the rungs are not 
very far apart, and energy and brains enable a capable 
man to climb from axeman to resident engineer in two 
or three years or so. The positions above are the plums 
of the profession, and in view of the tremendous amount 
of railway construction at present under way in Canada, 
they are not difficult to pick up. The wonder is that 
more British engineers do not turn their attention to 
the Dominion. They are in urgent request, for it must 
be confessed that their peculiar training renders them 
more fit for responsible offices than the average Canadian 
or American trained engineer, who is merely a cog- 
wheel in the constructional machine. One contractor 
put the matter very concisely to me, although he was 
an American. "Experience has shown me that the 
average British engineer has more knowledge of his 
profession in one hand than a six-foot Yankee has in 
the whole of his hide." 

Apart from the railway construction — and it is mighty 
fascinating to watch graders, steam-shovels and gun- 
powder tearing out a path for the parallel lines of steel 
— the most interesting spot was about eight miles west 
of Wolf Creek. Here we pulled into the town of 
Edson, or, rather, where Edson was planned to exist, 
for it was then in the "is-to-be" stage, as the 
Westerner puts it. Here we saw the foundations of a 
typical Canadian Western town being laid. Imagine 


a stretch of densely wooded country, with the bush as 
thick as the jungle, and about 20 feet or so in height. 
A square mile of this is pegged off. The railway station 
site is selected, and immediately opposite extends what 
is to be eventually the principal thoroughfare. On 
either side, at regular intervals, are run parallel roads 
of uniform width. From each of these streets, at in- 
tervals of 300 feet, transverse highways are driven at 
right angles. 

At the time we rode into Edson one or two of the 
main thoroughfares had been defined, but the scrub had 
been cleared only just widely enough to permit a wagon 
to pass. As we looked down the main street, our view 
was obstructed by an ugly square-shaped, black building. 
We turned towards it, and found that it was the hotel ! 
Boniface was a Chinaman, and he had been the first 
to reach the place, had run up a wooden building of 
two floors, and had covered it all over externally with 
tarred felt to keep out water and for warmth. We 
could not see a soul in sight, and the ways and means 
of poor Johnny's existence appeared extremely slender. 
The interior was scrupulously clean, and the "ground 
floor " tenant was ready to give you a good square meal 
for two shillings, and to put you up for the same price 
for a night ! 

"Yes, things are velly quiet just now. But I have 
been velly busy." 

"Busy?" We looked round at the undisturbed 

"Yes; ther have been velly manny men come round 
to buy land." 

We recalled our friend the engine-driver at Wolf 
Creek. He had plunged here ; and the outlook was 
about as dismal as one could wish. It appeared that 
he might as well have thrown his money into Wolf 
Creek as have put it into land here. Why, the place 
was as quiet as a churchyard. One part of the town 


was practically swamp or muskeg, and the rest was 
covered with a dense tangle of rank vegetation. 

But that Chinaman was perfectly correct. There 
had been an invasion of the "town" by speculators. 
The town-site is divided into lots of uniform size — 
60 feet wide by 100 feet deep — and from what we 
ascertained, some very lively speculating had been going 
on in this out-of-the-way place. The railway company 
had decided that Edson should be a divisional point — 
such a town has a greater commercial importance than 
the ordinary town — while the discovery of coal about 
fifty miles distant had resulted in the survey of a line 
linking the newly discovered collieries with the town. 
A boom in land had consequently set in, and prices 
ruled high. 

One plot at the corner of Third Avenue had been 
bought for £100, and had changed hands shortly after- 
wards for £'340^a profit of 240 per cent. Several lots 
which had cost originally £50 had changed hands at 
£200 upwards ; another which had cost £500 had sold 
for £760, and so on. The Chinaman was evidently well 
posted up in what had been happening in this " is-to-be " 
town, and his statements were confirmed when a little 
later we succeeded in running an unostentatious indi- 
vidual to earth, for he was the local land agent, and 
up to his eyes in work. 

"D'ye know," he blurted out, "that this town's goin' 
to be a reg'lar hummer? I've some stunnin' lots going 
cheap. Now's your chance. Come in and make a good 

He had taken us for land purchasers. He seemed 
highly mortified when we shook our heads negatively, 
proof against his persuasions. 

We struck through the bush to pick up the trail 
once more, and every few yards we stumbled upon a 
hidden pile of lumber, or into a clearing where a 
building was to go up. In half a dozen places we found 



frame buildings either coraplete and occupied or nearly 
80. We had thought the place deserted when we first 
struck it, whereas the bush was hiding extraordinary 

Three months later the boom in Edson went ahead 
with a vengeance. Directly the railway metals arrived 
at the front door, speculators, commercial ambassadors 
and tradesmen swarmed in. The whole square mile 
was stripped of bush, and left as clear as a cricket 
ground. Miles of sidings were laid, and a healthy 
timber colony sprang into existence, with all preliminary 
arrangements completed for the raising of a first-class 
permanent town. Such is the way in which Canada 
is being opened up. Dense forest to-day, tents next 
week, wooden frame-houses the following month, masonry 
buildings a year later, a healthy town in five years, 
and a full-blown hustling city in ten years, with tram- 
ways, telephones, and what not. Within a quarter of 
a century land grows so scarce and costly in the heart 
of the centre that the sky-scraper has to be brought 
into vogue. 

It is not surprising that the Western public has 
contracted a town-site speculating mania, for fortunes 
are being made every day. The Canadian is the biggest 
plunger you can find, and he plunges wildly, spreading 
his net over a large area. He has the advantage of 
being on the spot, and many of these landlords will 
squat on their holdings waiting for buyers. As keen 
as ferrets, they are able to follow developments closely, 
and to benefit from every tit-bit of information which 
can possibly enhance the value of their property. These 
speculators buy heavily, as the lots are sold on easy 
terms. A man stakes his whole on the first plunge, 
expecting to have sold out before the second payment 
becomes due. At any rate, very often he does not 
know from where the money for the second instalment 
is coming. True, the buyer becomes a Canadian free- 



holder, but whether his acquisition is valuable or 
really marketable he cannot tell. It may be worth less 
than the value of the paper on which the title-deed is 
written, and then ten years later suddenly leap into 
first-class prominence and net him a small fortune. 

Through the McLeod River Valley 

Watching the Growth of a Timber Bridge — Bannock — Roving Horses — 
A Lonely Grave in the Bush — How to Walk along a Trail — An Old- 
Timer's Journey across the Continent — A Bush Hotel — Joe Brown 
and His Catering Experiences — His Vigorous Welcome to an Old 
Chum — A Hairbreadth Escape from Destruction — Succulent Pastur- 
age—Bidding Adieu to the McLeod River. 

It was our first night in camp. It had been raining 
hard all the afternoon, and when we pulled into an 
open space in the shadow of the huge timber trestle 
that was going up over Sundance Creek we were a 
sorry-looking party. But the evening meal revived our 
depressed spirits, although "little Mary" resented the 
rough treatment meted out to her with bannock, canned 
beef, and other comestibles of the tinning factory. We 
did not feel the effects immediately, but a few hours 
later more than one set of digestive organs was in 
active rebellion. 

The erection of the massive timber structure whereby 
the grade of the line was to be preserved over a yawning 
depression through which flowed the McLeod river 
was an operation of deep interest. We had passed 
freighters toiling wearily along in the mud, slime and 
water, with the massive baulks of wood, and here we 
saw these squared tree-trunks being fitted and fixed 
tc^ether as tightly as iron dogs could grip them, while 
lying in a prone position. When all was ready, a hook 
and cable were attached to the top side, a mighty pull 
was given by the steam engine , and lo ! the section 
stood upright. Men swarmed over the "bent," as it is 
called, rapidly drove in the bolts to keep it vertical, the 



cross members were lifted up and set in position in the 
twinkling of an eye. One could see the labyrinth of 
timber actually growing. Half a mile or so it measures 
from end to end, and at the point where it spans 
Sundance Creek it is 125 feet in height. It does not 
leap across the McLeod river, since that waterway, in 
the manner peculiar to Canadian rivers, suddenly alters 
its mind when it meets the turbulent little stream, and 
bends sharply on itself, making a huge elbow. 

That night, as I have hinted, was painful to more than 
one member of the party. The man who first contrived 
a substitute for bread, viz. baking powder and bacon 
fat, giving the mixture the generic name of "ban- 
nock," was freely anathematised. The digestions of 
members of a community accustomed to city life are 
not prepared for midnight struggles with trail food. 
Bannock may be highly satisfying, but until the human 
engine has become accustomed to this class of fuel it 
is apt to make vigorous protest against it. 

The following morning introduced us to one of the 
tribulations of the trail, and one from which, by the 
way, we were destined to suffer considerably. 

When camp is pitched, and the packs have been 
removed from the horses' backs, the animals are turned 
loose into the bush to wander where they will, and to 
feed how and when they like. Some are blessed with 
very pronounced roving proclivities, and stray a con- 
siderable distance. Then a large train will split up into 
colonies and each select its own point of the compass. 
The result is that a pack of thirty may easily be dis- 
tributed over an area of twenty or thirty square miles. 
The bush is so thick that they cannot be discovered 
readily by the packers, who turn out at dawn and 
proceed afoot through the dense moisture-laden brush 
in search of them, for their tracks criss-cross in every 
direction in a bewildering manner. Eyes must be kept 
open and ears ever on the alert to catch the tinkling 


of the bell carried round the animal's neck. Conse- 
quently no little skill is required to discern the most 
recent spoor, and a good "rustler" of horses is not an 
easy acquisition. 

Our packers rolled out of their tents before the sun 
had thrown its rays over the eastern horizon, but it 
was nearly seven o'clock before all the horses had 
been rounded up and coralled within the rope enclosure. 
Packing occupied a further two and a half hours, so 
we were late in getting away. The experienced man 
of the trail likes to hit the hike before the summer sun 
has shot very high into the heavens, so that the day's 
journey may be finished about three in the afternoon, 
a single being generally preferred to a double "drive," 
the former expression signifying being on the road con- 
tinuously for several hours instead of for three or four 
hours in the morning, followed by two or three hours' 
rest in the heat of the day, and then another three 
hours* jaunt in the late afternoon. The single drive is 
certainly preferable. It gets one into camp early, and 
gives a few hours* recreation before tumbling into the 

Leaving Big Eddy behind us, we made our sinuous 
way up through the winding valley. We had well-nigh 
struck the lonely trail now, for the freighters who passed 
us were few and far between. The ravine was gently 
undulating, with broad stretches of open expanse on 
either side, fringed by thick poplar-covered banks and 
with the glinting fir forming a rising background. 
Here and there some hardy pioneers had set to work 
ploughing, and the loam — a deep black chocolate colour, 
such as one meets for mile after mile on the prairie 
— proved that the farmers here would have no great 
difficulty in raising produce. 

Before we had ridden more than a mile or so the 
loneliness of the bush was brought home to us in a 
vivid manner. Under a lofty cedar tree, whose branches 


were bowed down as if in grief, was a small enclosure 
about seven feet by four. It railed off a rough grassy 
mound with a cross of two thick wooden sticks nailed 
crudely together. There was no name, possibly the 
form sleeping the long rest below had never been known 
to his "pards" on the trail by other than a nick-name; 
but when he handed in his checks in the bush, his 
rough companions had not shirked carrying out the 
last sad rites in the lonely wilderness to the best of their 
ability, and, in their own rough way, had marked 
the spot with two sticks so that one and all might 
understand the significance of the railing. That lonely 
little God's acre in the wilds, with its decaying wooden 
cross, impressed us more forcibly than the crowded 
cemetery of civilisation bedecked with the most beautiful 
and ornate mausoleums that architect and sculptor can 
devise. Its utter simplicity struck a note of strangely 
vibrating emotional intensity. 

We jogged along at a steady pace of about three 
miles an hour, the pack-train following in our wake 
like a misshapen snake. Presently the more or less 
open country gave way to rising slopes, dotted here 
and there with clumps of towering fir. Up and down 
over the humps wound the interminable trail. The 
man who trod that track first paid no regard to cutting 
corners. He simply followed the line of least resistance. 
The man who went in his wake did the same, and so 
did the third, fourth and perhaps ten thousandth pair 
of feet. Such is the way in which a trail is made 
through the bush. It is only a matter of six inches 
in width, and more often than not is forced through a 
perpendicular wall of bush three or four feet in height. 
The horse is perfectly at home. He planks his feet 
comfortably in the rut, beaten down to a depth of six 
inches or so. But try to walk along the same track 
with your customary pavement step, and you will soon 
be stumbling and tripping. Your toes are for ever 


striking the wall of the rut, or coming into contact 
with an obstacle which the horse never discovers. You 
see an Indian on the trail in front. You are inclined 
to ridicule his inturned feet, which give him a clumsy, 
shuffling appearance, and dub him "duck-footed" right 
away. But watch him silently gliding along at a speed 
twice that of the pack-horse. He never stumbles or 
trips, for the simple reason that his inturned toes keep 
to the centre line of the trail, and even should he come 
into contact with a small obstacle, owing to the pointed 
prow-like angle offered by his feet they glance off, as 
the waves slip by the sharp bow of a vessel. 

One of our party was a weather-beaten old-timer, 
who joined the Hudson's Bay forces in Canada way 
back in the 'sixties, and whose first important journey 
was overland from Montreal to Vancouver with pro- 
visions for the post at the latter point. That was a 
journey over the trail and no mistake. The pack-train 
set out on the 1st of May, and after being buried in 
the bush for four months, making its three thousand 
miles' journey, got to its destination in the early days 
of September. When this trader reached Winnipeg for 
the first time, what is now a hive of 130,000 hustlers 
and of sky-scraping buildings was nothing but rolling 
prairie, broken only by Fort Garry and some shacks 
which housed a few intrepid whites and more Indians. 
The "city" of Edmonton numbered only the buildings 
of the Hudson's Bay post, with a solitary Indian shack 
to keep it company. That was barely half a century 
ago. Truly the West has undergone a tremendous 
transformation, which, however, is still only in its 
early stage. 

It was approaching noon. The sun blazed furiously 
from an unruffled sky, and the ground reflected the 
intense heat. We had ridden fairly hard for some four 
hours on end, and were tired, hungry and thirsty. The 
warmth in this valley is an outstanding feature being 


evidently due to the warm Japanese Chinook wind which 
blows through the mountain passes. This tempering 
feature, combined with the richness of the soil and 
moderate moisture, renders the whole of this stretch of 
country ideal arable land. It recalls vividly to mind 
the meteorological conditions prevailing in the southern 
and south-western counties of England — and, indeed, 
were it not for occasional glimpses of the white caps 
of the Eockies, it would not be difficult to imagine 
that one was gazing on an English scene. While 
meandering along slowly, we suddenly observed a long, 
rambling shack perched beneath the trees on a high 
bank over a creek, and in a few minutes were face to 
face with another way of making a living in the bush. 
As we climbed up the bank leading to the shack a sign- 
board stared us in the face, upon which was printed, 
in a distinctly amateurish hand, "White Mud. Joe 
Brown's Stopping Place. Meals, 50 cents." 

We had struck a "bush hotel," since a stopping- 
place for man and beast is the Canadian backwoods 
equivalent of an English wayside inn, but without a 
licence. We were in the proscribed area, because the 
railway was in active progress barely a mile away. 
Adam's ale was the only available refreshment with 
which it appeared possible for us to quench our thirst. 
But old Joe Brown rose to the occasion. He brought 
in a pail filled with ice-cold water, from which jutted 
out the necks of four black bottles, bearing a label 
which looked like a well-known brand of Scotch whisky. 
But the label was a fraud. The contents were merely 
good, wholesome, unadulterated cider. But never had 
cider so welcome a taste — never was the juice of the 
apple so refreshing. It stimulated us for a good hearty 

Old Joe Brown — everybody calls him old, though he 
is as skittish as a kitten, despite his advanced middle 
age — raked us up some succulent young lettuces and 


spring onions which he had raised on a small patch 
beneath the shadow of his livery stable. He had not 
troubled to dig, but had merely scratched the surface 
with a primitive rake and sown his seed ; the climate 
and the richness of the soil had completed the work. 
It was a roaring big lunch to which we sat down and 
did ample justice, extending from tomato soup through 
prime steaks, chops, vegetables, stewed fruits, milk 
puddings and pies, to cheese and crackers, the whole 
washed down with copious draughts of good tea or 
cocoa. And the total cost was two shillings a head. 
I have sat down to a meal in a London hotel costing 
six times as much, and not had such variety, such 
abundance, and such nourishing, wholesome victuals as 
this chef of the woods gave us in his primitive log hut. 
One wondered how he could do it. 

"Blest if I know," he replied to an interrogation on 
the subject. "But I do. It's the number as pays." 

"Number? Where on earth do customers come from 
out here? Do you grow them in the woods?" 

"Gee! You ought to have been here last season. 
Why, I cleaned up a good wad. For weeks on end I 
served three hundred meals a day to a hundred men 
here — that was 150 dollars — say, £dO — and had my four 
large stables chock full of horses every night, and they 
represented a good bit of money. They were rattling 
good times, were they. But I can tell you, one has 
got to look alive to make it pay at 50 cents a meal. 
It's the freight what kills, for I have to bring every- 
thing in from Wolf Creek by road. I lay in stock for 
ten months ahead, having it brought in during winter 
by sleigh. That way of freighting 's cheaper, costing 
me 65 cents — 2s. 8^d. — the hundred pounds. Even 
then the expense of transporting many things, such as 
matches, runs into more than the value of the articles. 
When I first come out here the railway could not 
transport farther than Entwistle, and from there goods 


had to be freighted in by road, fifty-four miles, to Wolf 
Creek, I then had to bring them another thirty-three 
miles to White Mud. Well, at that time flour cost me 
50s. the hundred pounds — 6d. a pound — owing to the 
long freight haul, and I had to make it up into bread, 
pies and what not to serve with a two-shilling meal. 
It seems impossible, but I did it, and it paid me pretty 
well too. Now flour costs me 14s. 6d. the hundred 
pounds. If I hadn't known the game backwards I never 
could have made it pay. But I had been twenty years 
as cook on a Grand Trunk Railway dining-car running 
between Montreal and Chicago, and the experience there 
gained stood me in good stead out here, where good 
cooking, and first-class pastry especially, are highly 
appreciated. These backwoods fellows are keen critics 
in matters pertaining to the culinary art." 

Brown is a genial host, and can relate yarns by the 
hour. No one thinks of passing White Mud without 
looking him up, as we readily recognised, for even in 
the space of an hour several men appeared suddenly 
from out of the bush, disposed of a good square meal, 
and apparently disappeared to nowhere in particular 
in the scrub. 

"What made me come out here?" answered old 
Joe to our inquiry. "Well, twenty years on a train 
sickened me somewhat. I had grown tired of the city, 
and wanted to see what the Great West, of which I 
had heard so much in conversation with passengers, 
was really like. I had saved a few hundred dollars, 
and some pals of mine having made good out here at 
this kind of thing, I decided to make a splash. So here 
I am. I settled on this spot when the railway was 
so far back as Edmonton — 160 miles east — and it was 
pretty lonely and uphill work at first. I had a bit of 
difiiculty in obtaining labour to assist me in putting 
up this shack, which cost me £240, the wood being 
obtained on the spot. I then sat down to wait for my 



first customers. They were not long in coming. The 
contractors were pushing their camps ahead of the end- 
of -steel, and things were pretty busy last summer and 
winter. Of course, when the contractors commenced 
railway building about a mile yonder, they set up their 
own kitchen and brought in their own cook, so that 
my trade fell off. But I cannot grumble. Things, 
though a bit slack just now, will look up again directly 
as the end-of -steel approaches. You see, a lot of material 
has got to be forwarded yet. When that is over I shall 
sell out this holding and move a hundred miles or so 
farther on. That's the way to make money out here at 
this game." 

While we were lounging around after our repast we 
suddenly heard a wild cheering, and looking around saw 
Brown throwing brickbats as hard as he could down 
the bank. 

"Hello ! you son of a gun ! " he yelled, "What the 
blazes have you come out here again for ? " — accom- 
panying each word with the heaving of a good-sized 
rock at some hidden object. 

In a second or two the target hove in sight up the 
bank. It was our leading packer, who was dodging 
the missiles as best he could, and laughing merrily at 
the top of his voice at Brown's ineffective aim. This 
was a curious means of extending a greeting in the 
wilds ; but when the packer dismounted the two dis- 
appeared into the shack, and the rafters rang with 
vociferous laughter, that of the packer being a kind of 
wild gurgling and choking as he endeavoured to force 
down a pumpkin pie at the same time that he was 
exercising his risible faculties. The two were old com- 
panions, but the appearance of the packer had somewhat 
roused Brown's exuberance, which had found vent in the 
vigorous fusillade greeting. Truly the ways of the bush 
are strange. 

That afternoon we had our first shock. We were 


riding along the hump of a cHff, taking in the magnificent 
panorama of mountain unfolded before us. The cliff 
dropped sheer down for some 300 feet into the McLeod 
river, which ambled along lazily, and from its opposite 
bank tall cathedral pines waved backwards to the foot 
of the snow-capped Rockies, the whole range of which 
stood out clearly before us in the dazzling sunlight, 
the ice and glaciers reflecting the rays of the sun like 

The trail along the cliff was very narrow and riven 
with small ditches, down which the surface water after 
a rainstorm cascades into the McLeod. The party had 
strung out to a length of half a mile or so, our pace 
having slackened down to a tortoise's gallop, so that one 
and all might admire the beauty of the scene at leisure. 
The foremost members, including myself, had drawn up 
at an ugly wound in the cliff face, where a gang of rock- 
drillers were busily engaged tearing out a path for the 
railway, which skirts the summit of this precipice. We 
were intently following the disengagement of huge 
chunks of rock — how they were prised and warped to the 
cliff edge, and then forced over to go hopping, skipping 
and jumping down the perpendicular wall with increasing 
velocity, until they ended their mad career with a loud 
report and a terrific splash in the river. We had pulled 
our horses to the brink of the cutting, to follow operations 
at the closest possible range, when a wild cry broke out 

Casting round, we saw one of the members of the 
party coming along like the wind and pulling his steed 
furiously. His horse had bolted. Jumping a ditch, it 
had rapped its forelegs against some concealed iron rods 
used by the drillers, and the terrific clatter that ensued 
among the disturbed rods frightened the horse out of its 
wits. It made straight for the cliff edge, reaching which, 
it made a sharp swerve and drove right into us. As 
it swung round from certain death we lost sight of 


the rider, and to our horror we saw the saddle go over 
the cliff. 

"Good heavens ! he's over ! " 

We slipped off our horses and ran to the spot, expect- 
ing to see the battered corpse of our friend lying at the 
bottom of the cliff. We crawled out on hands and knees, 
but could see no trace of him, except the saddle, caught 
on a projecting rock about ten feet below. The gangers 
had thrown down their tools, and were likewise peering 
intently into the gulch below. 

"What's the matter? Who are you looking for?" 
asked a trembling voice behind us. 

It was our friend Charlton. We were looking for 
his mangled body, and here he was beside us, as white 
as a sheet, and rubbing his right shoulder pretty 

"Gee! That was a close shave. What happened?" 

"The girth snapped just as the brute swerved at the 
edge, pitching me to the ground in a small ditch, and 
throwing the saddle the other way over the cliff." 

Charlton looked pretty scared, as well he might. He 
was as near handing in his checks as ever he had been 
in his life, and had the saddle not given way as it did, 
there is no doubt but that horse and rider would have 
been hurled over. 

Valleys and humps alternate with striking regularity, 
and the fertility of the low-lying stretches is astonishing. 
This peculiarity becomes more pronounced the nearer the 
mountains are approached. Vetches grow in the wildest 
profusion and to a great height, twining round the slim 
trunks of the poplar trees like hops. We came across 
more than one little patch in these depressions where 
some energetic pioneer had succeeded in raising vege- 
tables, and there is no doubt but that throughout this 
stretch of Alberta a great future is available for truck or 
market gardening. The rolling humps protect the valleys 
from the biting winds of the north and east. The raising 


of fodder for cattle should prove highly remunerative, as 
we found wide open expanses of rich, succulent pasturage 
bordering the streams. It was now that driving the ship 
of the bush became an exacting task. The animals could 
not resist the tempting growth and straggled from the 
trail, gulping down large mouthfuls at gluttonous speed, 
until the packer hove in sight, and they were stimulated 
into rapid forward movement once more under the strident 
tones of his adjurations. Even then they were not going 
to be denied, for they incessantly made a big snatch here 
and there as they went along. 

We had threaded our way for about thirteen and a half 
miles beyond White Mud, and now bade adieu to the 
McLeod, whose winding waters had kept us company for 
so many miles. We had gained the "Leavings," or, as 
it was called in the olden days, " Plum Pudding Cache." 
From this point the river makes a sudden break to the 
south, for the rising low mountain immediately ahead 
is the divide between the McLeod and Athabaska 
rivers. In its wandering southwards for two or three 
score miles, the McLeod cuts a channel which, when 
traced out on paper, resolves itself into the striking profile 
of a human face. The trail, however, keeps to a direct 
westerly course, crossing the divide at almost its 
highest point. 

Crossing the Divide into the Athabaska Valley 

The Trail becomea more difficult — Muskeg — Over the Divide into the 
Athabaska Valley — A Hundred-Thousand-Acre Fire — A Dismal Way 
— An Altitude of 4,640 feet — Beginning the Descent — A Terrific 
Storm — " Hikers " — Hardisty Creek — Prairie Creek — Beheading a 
Hill — A Bush Hospital — Antiseptic Effect of the Air. 

"You've got a pretty stiff trail in front of you," remarked 
a freighter cx)ming eastwards. "The muskeg's pretty 
bad. It's been fixed a bit here and there, but I should 
advise you to go carefully." 

It was not long before we were destined to find out 
just what that muskeg was like. So far, the trail had 
been what the Westerner calls "easy," though perhaps I 
should have disputed the veracity of that phrase with my 
knowledge of English roads, lanes and footpaths. Now 
we were brought face to face with one of its worst phases. 
Muskeg is nothing more nor less than swamp ; a peat 
bog would be the nearest simile, and it is almost as 
treacherous. It is formed, as I have said, of the decayed 
vegetable accumulations of centuries, saturated with stag- 
nant water. It looks fairly substantial with its top growth 
of stubble and moss, calling to mind nothing so much as 
a pond dried up by the heat in summer, leaving its evil- 
looking, cracked bottom with dank puddles here and 
there. More often than not a stream will be running 
through the mass in a semi-subterranean manner. One 
particularly bad patch ran right across our trail. A person 
walking does not experience any untoward results beyond 
a possible springiness beneath the feet, and the sudden 
slide of a foot now and again into viscous slime up to the 



knee. But woe betide the horse that gets caught in its 
sticky clutches. Some animals are more adept at cross- 
ing the muskeg than others, being intuitively guided as 
to the best way to step from point to point. But, as a 
rule, the horse's foot plunges into the mass like a stake 
driven by a hammer, and the brute has to exercise con- 
siderable effort to withdraw it. 

When he comes to the edge of a swamp the pack- 
horse sniffs round suspiciously and paws his feet in a half- 
hearted manner. He puts one foot carefully forward, 
brings it back again, and moves sideways a trifle to reach 
out to a rather more substantial-looking spot. Then he 
strikes out. His feet give a wicked squelch as they go 
down, and another ominous gurgle as they are pulled out. 
As he proceeds he sinks deeper and deeper, until he is im- 
mersed almost to his girth. Feet drawn from the stirrup, 
you keep a sharp eye on the animal's movements, ready 
to spring clear the moment he gets into difficulties. 
The poor beast lurches rather than walks, and no 
little effort is required to preserve your balance. Should 
you slip — well, you may be certain of a good sousing in 
the most evil-looking semi-liquid mass it is possible to 
imagine. One packer came a cropper through his animal 
losing his balance, and when he at last got up he pre- 
sented a sorry sight. He could not have looked worse 
if he had fallen into Thames mud. It took ua over 
half an hour to cross that muskeg, although it was not 
more than 60 feet in width. The slow progress was 
due to a pack-horse getting caught. He stepped into 
a concealed bad spot, and instantly sank up to his girth. 
Then he started kicking and floundering as if demented, 
but the weight of the pack and his own frantic struggles 
only served to cause him to sink deeper and deeper into 
the mire. At last he gave it up, and rolled helplessly 
over on to his side. In the twinkling of an eye the 
packers had rushed to his assistance. Wading up to well 
over their knees — a packer never knows what it is to 



possess a dry pair of nether garments — they released the 
pack and hauled it to one side. Then, while one pulled 
at the bridle, the others pushed against the flank, the 
animal meanwhile being urged to a fresh attempt at ex- 
trication. The mud flew about in clouds, spattering the 
packers from head to feet. The more the horse struggled 
the louder yelled the packers, and the more they tugged 
and pushed. At last, with a supreme effort, the horse 
sprang out of the hole and stood on dry ground, shaking 
and trembling like an aspen leaf. 

For mile after mile we had to battle against this 
treacherous muskeg, and it was tiring and heavy work. 
Sometimes we would see a bad spot in the middle of the 
trail, and, sooner than attempt to force our way through, 
would make a wide detour, only to be caught in a worse 
place, and would wallow and flounder in water and mud 
three or four feet deep. Very few of us could boast a 
dry suit of clothes in the course of three or four hours' 
tussle with this frolic of Nature's, and our garments 
looked much the worse for wear, with their thick, large 
and frequent blotches of black, unsavoury mud. 

Every ledge on that hill could boast a muskeg, for 
the water collects in the basin-like depressions, and there 
awaits the unwary. At more than one place we could 
see that the freighters who occasionally came so far as 
this had been engaged in a stiff fight, and had resorted 
to the only defensive measure possible. This is the build- 
ing of a corduroy ; merely the trunks of trees and branches 
felled by the wayside and laid transversely beside one 
another, forming a kind of mat. These in themselves 
are a first-rate trap to catch the careless horseman, for 
as the horse walks over them they roll round, causing 
the animal to stumble and stagger like a drunken man, 
while here and there, where a dead trunk has been pressed 
into service, it will collapse beneath the horse's weight, 
and let its feet through into the unstable ooze below. One 
stretch of muskeg we traversed, at the foot of a towering 



hump over which the trail wound its way, was spanned 
by a section of corduroy over a quarter of a mile long. 
This particular causeway had been well built in its time, 
having longitudinal heavy trees upon which the cross logs 
were laid. But it had fallen somewhat into decay, and 
now and again when a horse put its foot down a broken 
log would fly up like a big tip-cat. 

The divide proved to be one of the most desolate 
stretches on the whole of the trail. Some fifty 
years ago it was clothed from foot to crest with fine 
massive timber, the value of which must have run into 
hundreds of thousands of pounds. Then a fire swept 
through the mass, denuding over a hundred thousand 
acres. Where before stretched an endless expanse of 
varying shades of green, where towering pines converted 
the trail into a picturesque avenue, is now nothing but 
depressing sterility. The sky-line is broken on all sides 
by gaunt tree-stumps, which, burnt and scorched and 
bare, make a ghastly blot on the landscape. The 
ground is piled to a height of ten, twelve — aye, twenty feet 
with the decomposing carcases of what were once stately 
trees, criss-crossed and packed into such a dense, im- 
penetrable maze as to beat you back should you attempt 
to break from the trail. On a hot summer's day, when 
the sun is pouring down relentlessly from a cloudless 
sky, the effect is poignantly acute, for nothing is so liable 
to provoke depression on the trail as dead tree-stumps for 
mile after mile on all sides. The bush is endeavouring 
to hide these grisly wounds inflicted upon Nature by the 
fire fiend, but only serves to render the scene more melan- 
choly. The silence is one that can be felt, for not a sound 
breaks the stillness of the wilderness, save possibly the 
wind, which whistles and soughs through the ugly jagged 
standing trunks as if mourning the desolation. The trail 
is littered with the fallen monarchs which have been 
levelled by tempest, and each successive gale only serves 
to render ^lie trail more difficult and the going more 


trying. A trunk between three and four feet in diameter 
is a fearsome obstacle across your path, and you have to 
plough your way as best you can through the bush — the 
branches of which cut your face like a whip — to make 
your way round the obstruction. When you plunge into 
the undergrowth you cannot see where you are going. 
You trust blindly to luck and the sagacity of the pack- 
horse. Tangled vegetation walls you in on every side 
and closes over your head. It is by sheer weight that you 
force your way, clinging tightly to your saddle for fear 
that you should be suddenly unseated, rocking wildly from 
side to side as the horse stumbles and falls over concealed 
rotting trees, and keeping as sharp an eye as you can 
in the circumstances for snags — the dead branches of 
trees snapped off near the trunk , leaving only a few inches 
projecting which are capable of inflicting uglier wounds 
than a bayonet. 

The dangers of the dead and living vegetation 
were only equalled by the perils of the ground over 
which we were picking our toilsome way. Now and 
again there would be a savage jolt, caused by the horse 
flopping into a mudhole, or slipping on its haunches, as a 
piece of rock rolled away from under its feet. Under such 
conditions it is not surprising that but little more than 
a mile an hour can be registered. When at times a hun- 
dred feet or so of free trail is met and the country opens 
out, letting you secure a glimpse of the middle and ex- 
treme distance, you pull up for a welcome breather and 
to gather strength for another plunge into the blinding 

One such peep as we got through a rift in the moun- 
tain side afforded us a gorgeous view to the east. We 
were at an altitude of about 4,000 feet, and the expanse 
of rolling country was impressively vast. The atmosphere 
was wonderfully clear, and for some fifty or seventy miles 
stretched away nothing but trees, trees, trees, to the point 
where earth and sky appeared to meet in a wavy line. We 


could see the meandering McLeod stretching for miles, 
and could take in many of its remarkably sharp hairpin 
bends, with here and there a large blob of scintillating 
crystal where the river had spread itself over a depression 
forming a lake. That was the last glimpse of the 
McLeod we obtained, for the interminable dead jack pine 
presently blotted out the panorama. 

Up, up we toiled, winding round crags, in and out 
piles of windfall, over hummocks of rocks, through 
furiously boiling creeks and innocent-looking muskegs. 
The heat was intense, and the arduousness of the going 
set up violent perspiration. At first coats were shed, and 
then sweaters, in order to seek a little relief; and when 
this was insufficient, shirt fronts were opened wide to the 
slight cooling breeze. 

At last the summit was gained. We had notched an 
altitude of 4,640 feet. Wolf Creek to our rear was only 
2,500 feet above the Atlantic, and to cross the Rockies by 
the Yellowhead we should not have to rise to such a 
height as this. This was the greatest altitude we should 
attain throughout the whole of our journey. We had 
been climbing steadily for nearly five hours, and had 
covered about ten miles — two miles an hour cannot be 
construed into fast travelling, but in the circumstances 
we considered we had done well. On one hand the 
McLeod made its way, on the other rolled the mighty 
Athabaska. The nearest point between the banks of 
these two rivers over the divide as the crow flies is 
about ten miles ; by trail it is nearly twice as much. 
Utter desolation enveloped us on every side, and the 
summit of that divide is about the most melancholy spot 
on which human eyes could alight. During our persistent 
climb scarcely a word had been spoken. All topics of 
conversation had long been exhausted ; dead timber and 
a windfall-strewn trail, with their pitfalls and dangers, 
are not conducive to comment, except of a querulous 


And the prospect as we started down the western 
slope was even more disconsolate than that on the eastern 
ascent. Brilliant sunshine and perspiring warmth had 
attended our climb ; now we were to experience the 
reverse conditions. Dense black clouds came rolling up 
the Athabaska valley, and in the distance could be 
heard the growling of thunder. As we dipped lower and 
lower the growling grew louder and the gathering gloom 
was relieved by brilliant flashes of vivid lightning ribbon- 
ing across the black canopy from one ridge to the other. 
The wind suddenly sprang up, and was soon whistling 
through the dead, silent forest. Now another danger 
confronted us. It is bad enough to have to keep your 
eyes glued to the ground for deadfall and muskeg, but 
when there is danger from collapsing giants suddenly 
surrendering to the fury of the storm the perils are a 
thousand times worse. When that visitation burst above 
our heads, it was as if inferno had been let loose. The 
clouds enveloped the country in an almost inky blackness, 
and when the lightning flashed the brilliance of the 
momentary illumination was blinding, and threw the 
gaunt trunks into powerful, grotesque relief. The deafen- 
ing crash and roll was continuous as the heavy artillery 
of Nature reverberated from mountain top to mountain 
top, and the effect upon the drums of the ears was very 
similar to that experienced when standing in close 
proximity to a twelve-inch gun at the moment of dis- 
charge. Instinctively one clapped hands over ears to 
stop the violent vibration and singing. When there was 
a momentary lull in the thunders, there was heard the 
crack, creak, and final terrifying crash of a towering tree 
being swept to the ground by the wind. Advancing up 
the valley was an opaque, dull grey-coloured sheet, stretch- 
ing from one side right across to the other, and com- 
pletely blotting out everything in its rear. The curtain 
advanced with startling velocity, and in a few minutes 
we were enveloped in a torrential downpour. Fortunately 


we had donned our slickers in time, otherwise we should 
have been soaked to the skin before we could have slipped 
them on when the rain broke over us. The downfall was 
so heavy that the water bounced off our oil-soaked outer 
cloaks in miniature cascades. 

One of the strangest features of the trail is the com- 
paratively large number of travellers one meets afoot. 
They disdain the pack-horse because they can get along 
quicker by Shanks 's pony. This is perfectly true, for 
whereas with a horse, on a trail such as winds over the 
divide, one can only reckon on a steady one and a-half 
to two miles an hour, afoot one can easily keep up a pace 
of three or four miles an hour — and these backwoodsmen 
are pedestrians of the finest class. As we dropped down 
into the Athabaska valley, we met one of these "hikers." 
He was trudging sturdily along , with no protection against 
the inclement weather, with only a small pack strapped 
to his back, and his rifle slung over his shoulder. He was 
truly making a steady three miles an hour, and as he 
came within hailing distance cheerily sang out. We drew 
rein, and inquired after his welfare. 

" Where are you going ? " 

"Wolf Creek." 

Phew ! This was something like a walk. It was 
nearly six o'clock ; there was a fearsome lonely trail over 
rough country, and there was no likelihood of his meeting 
a soul for sixteen miles. But he never paused in his 
gait. He went on like a machine, throwing back answers 
to our interrogations. 

"How long are you going to keep going to-night? " . 

"Until about nine. Then I'll make a fire, roll up in 
my blanket until dawn, and be off again." 

"How about food?" 

"I'm all right. I've got some bannock and cold pork 
in my pocket. That'll do for to-night, and I'll strike a 
railway camp about ten in the morning." 

"Nothing wanted?" 


"No, thanks! Goodnight." 

He was gone — lost to sight round a bend in the trail. 
Yet his was no isolated case. We met many a hiker, 
who either disdained his horse or did not possess one, 
plodding along as nonchalantly as a pedestrian treads a 
city street. Many prospectors we met were in this plight, 
their animals being fully loaded with the requirements 
for the trail. Fortunately good fellowship prevails in 
the bush, and when travellers meet, the first inquiry is 
in regard to respective food supplies or other require- 
ments. If a man hits a camp late at night, he is always 
freely welcomed and a meal straightway prepared for 
him. The hospitality on the narrow pathway in the 
wilderness is unique. The one may be a millionaire and 
the other a "hobo," but social inequalities are forgotten, 
and they sit down like brothers to share and share alike. 

We pulled up for that night at a stopping-place which 
was among the most isolated it was our lot to encounter. 
It was a Scotsman's investment, and Mackenzie dwelt 
there in lonely state. His patronage seemed even more 
remote than that of Joe Brown at White Mud, but he was 
looking to the future, so he said. Even as it was, he had 
about a dozen or so callers a day. We made a raid on 
his menu, but unfortunately we found the mosquitoes 
somewhat pugnacious in the heat of the shack, gulped 
down our supper, and beat a hurried retreat to the open, 
where we set to work putting up our tents on ground that 
held the water like a sponge. It was a dreary spot on the 
banks of a little creek, with only the chipmunks for com- 
pany, but in the course of an hour two freighters, with 
their lumbering wagon and team of oxen, pulled in. 
Though they were as taciturn as the majority of these 
backwoodsmen — the silence of the bush appears to enter 
the very souls of those who move therein — we managed 
to pull and tear some little scraps of conversation out 
of them, though it was not of a very enlightening 
character, being confined mostly to the trials of the 


freighter's life and the hardness of the grind for a few 

When we set out again, we left the burned timber 
and deadfall behind us with little regret. Poplar scrub, 
here dense and there sparse, relieved with wide open 
patches, was traversed, and we made a merry, swinging 
pace. The valley of the Athabaska is destined to become 
one of the busiest and most prosperous gardens of the 
North-West in the next decade. On the southern and 
western side of the river the land rolls back very gently, 
and extensive open expanses of meadowland, easily re- 
claimable for the plough, were traversed. Some of these 
little prairies, as they are called in the vernacular, are 
of large area, and the grass grows luxuriantly. The 
great majority of those entirely void of scrub and 
practically level were already occupied, pioneers having 
grabbed up the land, not for cultivation, but to hold to 
sell to the seekers for farms who follow in throngs behind 
the end-of-steel. Some are in the possession of the In- 
dians, who till a small patch during the summer, on which 
they raise the barest necessities of life, eking out an 
existence during the winter by trapping, though in this 
territory fur and feather life has been wellnigh exter- 
minated. But the Indian is just as canny as the white 
man, perhaps more so. He can live on a scantier and 
simpler diet than his rival, and the cheaper he can live 
the more he wants for his holding. Down by the river- 
side the soil is exceedingly rich , and the pasturage thrives 
thick and high. As we dropped lower and lower into the 
valley the Rockies loomed higher and higher, with gaunt 
bare slopes of limestone — for, taken on the whole, these 
sides exposed to the bitter east and north have not 
enough soil to support the hardiest of vegetation, and 
the contrast between the glittering snowcaps and the 
sombre dull massive flanks is very impressive. 

We first swept down to the edge of the Athabaska at 
Hardisty Creek, which tumbles into the larger river, and 


over which Mount Hardisty stands sentinel. The water- 
way had already attained respectable proportions, being 
about three hundred yards in width and swinging along 
at about eight miles an hour. Crossing the creek, we 
pressed on through another six miles of excellent arable 
land, until the low-lying flat came to an abrupt conclusion 
at Prairie Creek. This flat is semicircular and about a 
mile across, the hills hemming it in like a huge amphi- 
theatre. This was our destination for the night. So we 
thought ; but the gods and horses willed otherwise. How- 
ever, it was an idyllic situation, and our enforced pro- 
longed stay of two days was highly enjoyable, for here a 
pronouncedly British element among the resident en- 
gineering staff served to while away the time in first-class 
style, as they could relate experiences in the backwoods 
without end. From here were obtained magnificent 
glimpses of the outer barrier of the Kockies, which, owing 
to the clear atmosphere , seemed no more than half a dozen 
or so miles away — in reality the distance was nearer thirty 
miles — and as we were at a low level they seemed to rear 
up suddenly in massive peaks to a great height. 

We followed the operations of a gang cutting off the 
top of the hill on the northern side to make way for the 
iron road. Five or six horses were harnessed to a plough, 
which was driven up and down a steep declivity having a 
gradient of about 1 in 2^. On the descent the grader 
lowered the steel nose of the implement into the ground, 
which, as the horses tugged downwards, loosened the 
earth and stones, sending the spoil glancing along an 
angular plate, in the same manner as a snow-plough 
works in the street. When the horses neared the bottom 
of the decline they sat down on their haunches to form a 
brake, and at the critical moment gave a sudden sw^eep 
and swung the plough at right angles, shooting the re- 
moved spoil in a rattle down the hillside for two hundred 
feet or so. In this w^ay the crown of the hill was being 
low^ered rapidly. A little farther on the hillside was being 


removed in huge chunks by dynamite to provide founda- 
tions for an 800-foot bridge which was to span a wide 
gorge in order to gain a ledge on the opposite mountain 

About half a mile east of the camp, nestling among 
the trees, was a strange blend of civilisation and the wild 
North- West. Here was a long, rambling building erected 
in the ordinary log-shack manner. The large door was 
entered, and there stood out in regular rows a number 
of cots replete with snowy white linen. This was the 
railway construction hospital, and it would have done 
credit to many a town in regard to its equipment. The 
care of the men in sickness and accident is one of the first 
thoughts of the contractors. One ward was available for 
contagious diseases, while its fellow served for housing 
accident cases. The floor was spotless, as were also the 
walls and ceiling, though fashioned of rough timber. 
The cots were equipped with every requirement, and two 
attendants were retained to tend the patients. At the 
time of our visit there was only one solitaiy case — an 
axeman, while wielding his axe, having lost three toes of 
one foot through the tool glancing and cutting through 
his boot. No case, no matter how complicated its char- 
acter, could baffle the resources of this hospital in the 
bush. There was an operating theatre, spacious, well- 
lighted and finished off in white American cloth, to per- 
mit easy and rapid washing down, with every requisite 
for the most serious operation. Alongside was a well- 
stocked dispensary. 

The hospital is presided over by a fully qualified 
physician and surgeon, as well as a resident doctor, but 
fortunately their services are seldom required. The worst 
case that had come into their hands up to the time of 
my visit , the doctor related , was where a man in working 
a grading-plough had slipped and had his thigh, body, 
and legs torn badly by a hook. Septic poisoning was 
feared, but he recovered in next to no time, an effect due 

Crossing the divide 59 

in a great measure to the healthy physique of the patient 
and the bracing purity of the air. 

The rapidity and ease with which men who meet with 
accidents in the bush recover without skilled medical 
advice or special treatment is astonishing. A man's axe 
slips and pulls up in his leg, inflicting a gaping wound or 
possibly lopping off a toe or two. No antiseptic or other 
washing is resorted to, but the injury is bound up tightly 
with the first material that comes handy. These men 
never give a thought to the possibilities of foreign matter 
or microbes entering the wound. They know practically 
nothing about blood-poisoning. There is no special diet- 
ing, for the simple reason that it cannot be adopted, even 
if advisable; but in a few days the man is out and about, 
following his usual occupation. 

Jasper Park to the Foothills of the Rockies 

Indians as Caretakers of Horses — A Park half as large as Belgium — Charms 
of Jasper Park — An old Pioneer — Drystone Creek — An Excursion 
to Brule Lake — The Game Warden of Jasper Park — Sealing Fire- 
arms — Hot Springs at Fiddle Creek — An Enormous Coal Bed. 

Our arrangements permitted the acceptance of but a 
single night's hospitality of the resident engineer at 
Prairie Creek. But Fate, as typified by the pack-horses 
and Indians, was against us. The packers were out early 
in the morning "rustling" for the creatures, but they 
came in five short. Where the others were they could 
not say ; the bush is as tight in regard to its secrets as 
the slums of a city. We were stranded all that day while 
penetrating though futile search was made for the missing 

The packer in charge came to us in dismay. 

"Can't find those plugs anywhere. Those sons o' 
guns o' Indians have coralled them ! " he growled, scratch- 
ing his head. 

The resident engineer thought this was very probable. 
The red men are extremely wily, and if they can turn 
a dollar over, no matter how dubious the method, they 
will do so. They would not openly practise horse- 
stealing, as that would bring them up against the law. So 
they resort to subterfuge. They know that horses are 
gregarious. Consequently stragglers in the bush are lured 
away by driving their own cayouses among them, and thus 
all are rounded up in a bunch. If the owners discover 
their animals among the cayouses, the Indians naively 
remark that they had not noticed the strangers. 



"What's to be done, Walter? " 

The packer scratched his forehead vigorously. 

"Darned if I know, 'cept offer a reward. If I catch 
'em, there'll be something doing. If we put up ten 
dollars for the discovery of the plugs, they'll appear like 

It certainly is amazing with what alacrity lost horses 
will appear in a territory inhabited by Indians when a 
reward is offered. 

At this juncture the owner of the horses appeared on 
the scene, having driven hard on our heels, and the situa- 
tion was explained to him. 

"Well, look here," he remarked, after listening to 
the recital of details, "I can get another five horses. You 
push on, and I'll tempt them with ten dollars." 

Walter the packer knew the Indians and their 
ways. He observed the speed with which the Indians 
scurried off'. Jumping astride his own horse, he pelted 
hard towards the bush after them, and was soon 
lost to sight. Three hours later he was observed 
driving towards the camp like mad, with five frantic 
and kicking animals in front of him. They were the 
lost beasts. 

"Did you stump up, Walter? " 

"Not by a darn sight." 

"Where were they?" 

" Corralled ! The Indians had got 'em ! I guessed 
that was what was up." 

"Did you have any trouble? " asked one of the party. 
The red man is always ready to levy a complaint against 
the paleface to the Mounted Police, and we did not wish 
to court trouble in that direction. 

"Not much ! " and Walter gave a merry chuckle. 

It seemed as though he had enjoyed an untoward 
adventure, so we pressed for information. 

"Well, it was like this. I didn't like the look of those 
Indians, so I tracked 'em. I came up against a settler's 


shack. A white woman was at home, and I asked her 
if she'd seen any stray horses about? 

" ' No,' she replied slowly ; but all of a sudden she 
started out : ' Come to think of it, I saw the Indian below 
driving home his beasts last evenin', and he had one or 
two new 'uns among 'em. But ask that boy thar, he'll tell 

"I went up to his Indian lordship. I sounded 'im, 
and said I'd give 'im ten dollars if he found 'em. He said 
' he'd 'ave a look,' and bolted off, I got to the windward 
side of 'im in the bush and followed *im. I saw him 
makin' for an Indian shack, so I slipped off my * plug,' 
whipped ahead, and got to the shack first. Thar I found 
the whole bunch. As I war leadin' 'em out, up came 
the red boy. ' Give ten doU'rs ! ' ' No, sonny,' I re- 
plied, 'I found 'em, not you; I guess I'll get that re- 
ward.' The boy stormed and cussed, but I steered in: 
* Now, sonny, cut it out. If I hear any more o' yar 
palaver, I'll 'ave the Mounted Police on your track. I'll 
meet one to-morrow, so look out for trouble.' He hiked 
like a shot grizzly. And here we are, so now we'd better 
be gettin' a move on ! " 

We heard no more of the episode. The threat of the 
Mounted Police was enough. No one dreads the little 
man with the yellow stripe more than the Indian, especi- 
ally if he has been up to any underhand work, for his 
punishment is short and sharp. 

We were soon on the trail again, but the first half-mile 
was a teaser. We had to get to the summit of the ridge 
overlooking the western side of Prairie Creek, and it 
entailed a climb of three or four hundred feet rising one 
in two. It was like walking up the side of a house, and 
though the path zig-zagged like a worm in agony, it was 
pretty difficult work. Half an hour slipped by before 
we paused for a breather on the crest, for man and beast 
were puffing furiously. 

It was all downhill npw. When the horses had got 


their second wind we set off gaily, winding in and out 
of the poplar scrub. In a short time these slim trees 
gave way to tall, stately, cathedral pines. We had entered 
Canada's latest acquisition — the Jasper National Park, 
This is a tremendous reservation , comprising five thousand 
square miles — a tract half the size of Belgium — of some 
of the finest stretches of mountain, valley, river and forest 
scenery to be found in the whole of the Dominion. This 
is a territory rich in historic associations and Indian 
legend ; it was the scene of many a fierce tussle between 
the Hudson's Bay and the North-West Trading Com- 
panies for supremacy in the fur trade. 

The preservation of this imposing expanse for the 
public in perpetuity was an excellent move on the part 
of the Dominion Government, and their action will be 
more highly appreciated by posterity, since, as it is in- 
tended to retain the natural characteristics of the country, 
future generations will be able to obtain a graphic idea 
of the wild, difficult character of their country when the 
pack-horse or Shanks's pony was the only means of con- 
veyance, and of the heavy odds against which the pioneers 
in the unknown West were pitted when they undertook 
to lift the veil from the wilderness. Nothing will be done 
to the Park, except that wide roads will be driven through 
the dense bush in order to facilitate movement from one 
part to the other, and that the reserve will be bisected 
by the iron path of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, by 
means of which the Park will be brought into direct, easy 
touch with the teeming cities east and west. 

The diversified view of woodland and riverscape is one 
of the grandest in the country, and the grim, frowning 
mountains, with their white, glittering mantles and scin- 
tillating peaks, form an imposing frame to the picture. 
The Park stretches right up to the inter-provincial 
boundary, a matter of sixty miles or so as the bird flies. 
Lofty coigns of vantage, from which wonderful vistas are 
unfolded, are accessible on every side; and when trails 


are driven to these eyries, tourists and sightseers, anxious 
to catch ghmpses of Nature unadorned, will be able to 
gratify their desire to the full in ease and comfort. 

One hundred years ago the district teemed with game 
of all descriptions — bear, marten, mink, beaver, elk, 
mountain goat, sheep, cariboo and so forth roaming in 
profusion. But during later years the Indians, roving 
to and fro in what they considered their happy hunting- 
ground, almost exterminated every indigenous animal. 
When it was announced that the Government were going 
to take over the 3,200,000 acres, and that the Indians 
would have to move to pastures new, they had a grand 
final round up. Precisely what the total of that slaughter 
was is unknown, but it must have been considerable. 
By making the reservation an asylum for game of all 
descriptions, with perfect freedom to go wherever they 
like, the authorities hope to be able gradually to 
bring about a re-stocking of the preserve. But they 
will have to take the Park in hand at the earliest pos- 
sible moment, for it is in sore need of overhauling to 
ensure its security. The forest is densely piled up with 
deadfall, as dry as tinder. Should this be ignited, the 
whole stretch of magnificent cathedral pines, cedar and 
other noble trees would be devastated, and the Park 
would present as desolate and melancholy a scene as 
the divide. 

On the confines of the Park we came across a hardy 
old pioneer of some seventy summers. Gregg was his 
name, and his had been a marvellous example of burial 
alive in the wilderness. He had squatted on a flat some 
twenty-five years before, when the nearest railway station 
was two hundred miles or so away. We found him 
extremely taciturn, replying monosyllabically when we 
plied him with questions. But what else was to be 
expected after nearly a quarter of a century's immersion 
in the bush, without a soul to whom to speak outside 
his own family circle, except when he ventured to 


Edmonton to re-stock his provisions? But he had been 
wonderfully industrious. His farm wore an appearance 
of high productivity and gayness, the vegetables being 
well developed and wonderfully healthy, while his 
stretches of pasturage were brilliantly green, dense, and 
of great promise. 

The trail through the National Park had been widened 
already to admit of the passage of a wagon, with 
muskeg corduroyed and streams bridged, so that pro- 
gress was easy and rapid. Towering, graceful pines 
girdled either side, forming a beautiful avenue still 
retaining its primeval characteristics. As one looked 
down the cleavage through the trees, the view was com- 
pleted by a massive sombre-looking wall garbed with a 
rich green to the top, for the trail skirts the foothills. 
Then the trees fell back, and we emerged upon a rolling 
depression where the trail switchbacked in a gentle 
manner; The gloom of the forest gave way to a 
gay brilliancy, for the wild tiger-lily here flourishes 
luxuriantly, and at the time of our visit was at the height 
of its beauty. The bright flamingo-red of this bulb 
stood out in striking contrast to the greens of the trees 
and the dull blackish grey of the mountains, presenting 
a scene of gorgeous splendour. 

The tiger-lily is not the only flower indigenous to 
this region. Cursory examination revealed a score of 
plants which are raised with difficulty in an English 
garden thriving in wild luxuriance — such flowers as the 
campanula, primrose-calceolaria, aquilegia, sunflower, 
summer chrysanthemum, moon-daisy and Michaelmas 
daisy. When this Park is rendered accessible by the 
railway, it will be a treasure-ground for the botanist 
because of the flowers, ornamental grasses, mosses and 
lichens growing here in the greatest profusion. 

We hugged the foothills tightly for mile after mile. 
Then the trail gave a sudden dip and swerve to the 
west. As we urged our way through a dense stretch 



of undergrowth in the low-lying, damp ground, the 
mountain range which had faced us for so long like an 
endless wall seemed to have been forced apart with a 
gigantic wedge, for we came to an abruptly rounded 
end known as Folding Mountain. We had gained the 
broad gateway through which the Athabaska debouches 
from the mountains, and where it becomes slightly 
swollen by the waters of Fiddle and Drystone Creeks. 
We swung across the latter and under Folding Mountain 
— which appears to fold up as you swing round its base, 
but with its bare mottled head has a stronger resemblance 
to a crouching animal — we pitched our camp. 

Up to this point, except for the fatiguing toil over 
the divide the trail had been tolerably easy. Now 
its difficulties loomed up in dead earnest. We called a 
halt at this point because a side journey was to be 
made to Brule Lake. We reached Drystone Creek early 
on a hot summer's Sunday afternoon. One or two 
members of the party felt uncomfortably hot, were bathed 
in perspiration and grimed with dust. The shallow, 
limpid waters of the creek were so fascinatingly inviting 
that they decided upon a "dip." No comment was 
offered, but a grim smile flickered round the mouths of 
the packers, as if in anticipation of some fun. The 
seekers for a bath toddled off to find a shady pool, were 
soon stripped, and with a gay shout made a plunge. 
But the sound of the water splash had scarcely struck 
the ears of the others in camp when there ensued 
a savage, long-drawn-out, tremulous " Whoo-oo-oo-oo ! " 
and the bathers were out again on the bank shivering, 
and rubbing themselves vigorously. The packers burst 
out into uproarious mirth. The "tenderfeet" had not 
realised that the creek has its birth in snow and ice 
a mile or two above, and that it is glacial in its 
coldness. The intrepid ones did not venture on a second 
plunge, but dressed as rapidly as possible and indulged 
in a smart walk to get their circulation back. Hence- 

Our camp under Folding Mountain. 


forth seductive crystal streams were regarded somewhat 

Our excursion to Brule Lake involved a doubling 
back for about seven miles, and when we reached its 
shores we came to the conclusion that the French 
name was most apt. The lakeside is a mass of sand, 
littered with the barkless, bleached carcases of noble 
trees borne down by the Athabaska, of which Brule 
Lake is merely a widening to about a mile at the 
broadest part by something like seven miles in length. 
The main channel of the river lies at the foot of Bull- 
rush Mountain, which rose up sheer before us on the 
opposite bank. Scarcely a vestige relieved the dull- 
brown, burnt flanks of this mountain, but it possessed 
a striking and picturesque individuality, inasmuch as the 
stratification of the rock was thrown out with vivid 
force, synclines and anticlines being very easily dis- 
cernible. A conspicuous and curious feature of the lake 
is the wind that always sweeps it from end to end, 
often with the force of a gale. This is no doubt attri- 
butable to the fact that it lies directly at the mouth of 
the rift between the mountains, this rift acting as a 
funnel through which the winds rattle and roar over the 

Apart from its excellent sandy beach, the lake has 
practically no attraction. It is comparatively shallow 
and muddy coloured. No member of the finny tribe 
dwells here; it is dangerous for sailing, owing to the 
treachery of the winds, and possesses no bathing attrac- 
tions, the water being icy cold even in midsummer. The 
wind sweeping over the water strikes the banks, catching 
up the flour-like sand and scattering it, whistling, in all 
directions. At the far end we saw a lively battle against 
wind and sand in progress. The engineers of the Grand 
Trunk Pacific, which skirts the southern bank of the 
lake, were ploughing their way through the unstable 
mass. Here they had a deep cutting, and there a lofty 


embankment, some of the embankments being from 
70 to 100 feet in height. These the wind struck, 
stripping them of clouds of sand, which were hurled 
down into the cuttings the engineers had made. It 
was a ceaseless struggle. Screens were being set up 
at the entrance to the cuttings to deflect the winds, 
and in a measure this had been successful. The en- 
gineers were resolved not to be beaten, and were 
hatching ingenious ways and means to protect their 

When we returned to Drystone Creek camp we 
found the Jasper Park game warden in possession. He 
demanded all our firearms, for the purposes of sealing, 
since these must not be used within the confines of the 
reservation. Having accomplished this, he sat down 
for a chat, for these rangers are glad to get a little 
break in the monotony of their lonely round. 

"Say, warden," broke in one of the boys who had 
been following the sealing process with silent interest, 
"what happens if you should catch us with the seal 

"Oh, just fine you fifty dollars and confiscate your 
weapon ! " 

"Gee! Can't we draw in self-defence?" 

"Not in the Park." 

"But suppose a vicious old grizzly comes up against 
us and wants to be too familiar. You wouldn't be so 
severe on us if we plugged her, would you?" 

"You just have it out with the grizzly first and then 
see me — that is, if you can. I'll judge the case on 
its merits." 

There was no more discussion. The inevitable was 
accepted, but low mutterings were heard as to what 
that individual would do if a "bar" came up against 

The game warden very kindly informed us that we 
were about to hit the "hike" in grim earnest. So far, 


he said, we had been on a carriage road in comparison 
with what was immediately in front ! 

"You've got to get over the Koche Miette. That'll 
give you a few shivers. The trail's a perfect fright. 
There's one place where you have to crawl along a ledge 
that drops clean down into the Athabaska. If you slip — 
well, you've got a good shoot for about two hundred 
feet before you'll pull up in the water." 

This was encouraging. It gave the trip the first 
spice of excitement we had yet experienced. But there 
was an alternative. We could avoid this nerve-shaking 
ordeal if we were to swim the Athabaska at the foot of 
the mountain. So we pushed along to Fiddle Creek, 
four miles or so farther on. Here another short pause 
was to be made to enable us to ascend the creek to 
its higher reaches, where there were said to be some 
remarkable hot springs, about the merits of which much 
was said locally, though none of our informants appeared 
to have ventured there, as the trail was said to exist 
only in imagination. This latter part of the story we 
found to be quite correct. 

The general conception of a creek is that of an 
insignificant tumbling stream or babbling brook. But in 
these parts "creek" is colloquially used to describe any 
tributary to a main river. It may be but a few feet 
in width, vdth only inches of water rolling lazily along, 
or it may be a rushing stream as wide as the average 
British waterway, several feet in depth and somewhat 
exciting to cross. As a matter of fact, it is generally 
both : the former in the winter, and the latter in the 
spring and summer, when the melting snows cause 
numerous freshets to spring suddenly into life. Fiddle 
Creek was a case in point. When we crossed, it was 
about 20 feet wide, and the water did not come above 
the horses' fetlocks. But the mass of pebbles and 
boulders strewn through the forest on either side of the 
channel proved that when thoroughly roused the creek 


was 200 or 300 feet from bank to bank, and, judging 
from the large chunks of rock, torn and twisted tree- 
trunks, and piles of sand strewn on all sides, it pelted 
into the Athabaska Eiver more in the form of a miniature 
Niagara than a brook. 

It was about nine miles off the trail up the mountain- 
side to the springs. A guide offered his services, but 
he disdained the loan of a horse. He could walk it 
quicker and easier, he said. It was a constant fight 
with brush, deadfall and rocks for every foot of the 
way. Riding was absolutely out of the question, and 
hiking was decidedly painful and laborious. Now and 
again there would be a yap as sudden contact was 
made with some obstruction, and anathema fiercely 
uttered when one landed in a muskeg or the bed of 
the creek in a sitting posture. The mountain sides were 
as rough as a rusting wreck covered with barnacles, 
and foothold was difficult. 

It was a steady uphill climb until an altitude of 
4,200 feet was notched, and there, amid the scrub, 
were observed the clear and sparkling springs for which 
search was being made, almost hidden beneath a mass 
of tangled, dead vegetation. This was lopped with the 
axe, and cleared away. Three pools were found, the 
temperature of the two higher of which registered 
125 and 116 degrees respectively. There was no very 
strongly developed odour , and the water was almost taste- 
less. These are so far the most important hot springs 
that have been found in Canada, possessing a greater 
degree of heat than those at Banff. The waters are rich 
in essential constituents, and there is little doubt but that 
"taking the waters at Fiddle Creek" will develop into 
a craze within the next few years. Certainly the springs 
will recompense enterprising development — indeed, 
the Canadian Government and others have decided to 
develop them directly railway communication is secured, 
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to make a carriageway from the station to the springs. 
The Government propose to provide a sanatorium and 
accommodation for taking baths, while private interests 
are promoting a well-built, commodious hotel for the 
delectation of invalids and of tourists to this spa. From 
the tourist point of view an hotel at this point would 
command general acceptance, owing to the striking and 
varied views of mountain, lake and woodland offered 
from the elevation. 

Apart from a pleasure resort, this immediate district 
promises to develop considerable industrial importance. 
An energetic prospector, while investigating the geo- 
logical composition of the mountains, stumbled upon 
coal. It was a good outcrop, and, following up 
his initial slice of lack, he found the whole eastern 
mountain shoulder under the shadow of the Roche 
Miette to be a vast storehouse of coal. Further careful 
examination proved the bed to dip under the river, and 
to reappear in the continuation of the chain on the 
opposite side of the waterway. The deposits stretch 
over a matter of 15,000 acres. The fortunate prospector 
succeeded in enlisting the support of some well-known 
American and Canadian financiers, and when I reached 
the spot development was taking place as actively 
as is possible when a railway is a hundred miles 

I ran up against a young English surveyor, H. H. 
Rhodes, who had recently trekked to these pastures, 
new from the busy centres of Yorkshire, and he piloted 
me over the Jasper Park Collieries, as they are called. 
Coal was visible on every side, and Nature appeared 
to have distributed it with a free hand in this neighbour- 
hood, for the seams, extending to the surface, varied 
from 4 to 15 feet in thickness. And Nature was as 
discriminating as she was liberal, for the coal appeared 
to vary in quality from a semi-anthracite, recalling 
English silkstone, to bituminous, excellent for coking; 


some of the latter, under test, has yielded as much as 
80 per cent, of fixed carbon. 

This discovery, should anticipations be fulfilled, will, 
in conjunction with the discoveries of the same com- 
modity near Edson, have far-reaching effects in the 
Middle West, which is dependent upon the Pennsyl- 
vania fields of the United States for supplies of hard 
coal, ranging in price from 26s. to GOs. a ton, according 
to quality. 

The owners of the Jasper Park Collieries were not 
losing time. They were resolved to be in readiness by 
the time the railway passed their front door, barely 
one hundred yards distant. Galleries were being cut 
connecting the shafts with the coke ovens, which are 
to be set out on the bank, overlooking the iron road, 
so that the trucks can be fed by force of gravity with 
fuel for the market. 

There is no doubt that other finds of this fuel will 
be made in these mountains. The mineral wealth of 
this part of the Eocky range is absolutely unknown. 
The discovery of coal was unexpected, and the un- 
earthing of such a vast deposit as must repose in a 
region 23J square miles in extent is quite sufficient to 
stimulate belief that when the prospector gets to work 
upon a methodical and scientific basis " strikes " of other 
minerals of commerce may be made. At all events, 
the results so far achieved are quite sufficient to make 
"mountain scratching" a very promising speculation. 

Our Climb over the Roche Miette 

A Toilsome Ascent — The Summit — A Glorious View — Scene of the Fight 
between the Hudson's Bay axid North-Western Companies — The 
Descent to the Rocky River — Missing the Trail — Camping in a 
Swamp — Crossing the Athabaska. 

While the exploration of the springs was in progress 
the packers pushed on to see if the Athabaska could 
be crossed a little distance ahead. They returned with 
the news that this could be done, but might be dangerous, 
as the landing on the opposite bank was perilous to the 
horses, and they demurred against taking the risk, the 
river being high. 

There was nothing for it, then: we must face the 
hazard of the Roche Miette. Its grim head was frown- 
ing above us now. This is a strangely shaped peak, 
and its rugged outline had stood out boldly on our 
western horizon for some miles past. It is a serrated 
ridge, about 8,000 feet high, running almost due north. 
Within a few hundred feet of the river it breaks off 
abruptly, and its face for a matter of 2,000 feet is as 
straight as if the range had been cleft perpendicularly 
with a knife, the straight wall falling off at its base 
into a hump which slopes gradually like a hog's back 
to the water's edge, when there is another straight drop 
of 300 feet or so. 

Our way to the foot of the ridge wound through a 
broad flat, riven with the now dried-up beds of torrents, 
the lofty precipices being so steep that they seemed to 
lean forward, enclosing the lowland as if in a box, 
with trees clinging frantically to little crevices here and 



there, and at such a height that they appeared to belong 
to a toy Noah's Ark. In the spring, when the snows 
melt under the warm sun, cascades leap from these 
vertical faces, and the valley is converted practically 
into a seething maelstrom, the water darting hither 
and thither in a wild effort to gain the Athabaska. 
W© could hear the swish, swish, and gurgle of the 
mighty river tearing along on our right, and at last saw 
it eddying round the foot of the hump over which we 
were to make our way. 

Straggling over this rock, at an angle of about 80 
degrees, like a saw which has lost many of its teeth 
and is lying on its side, was the trail, no more than ten 
inches wide, and within six inches of the edge of the 
cliff. When the horse was half-way up it seemed to 
be rearing. Riding was out of the question, even if 
one felt inclined, for it would have been impossible 
to keep the seat. As we passed along the ledge we 
could hear voices below, and, peering over, we saw 
rock-hogs blasting a ledge along the face of the rock 
for the railway, only a few feet above the level of the 
river, and pitching the excavated debris overboard to 
form an embankment, which the water was savagely 
licking as if bent on devouring the work of man. 

Then the trail swung inward for some distance, 
slowly rising the meanwhile. We were crossing the 
first hump, and it was fairly easy going after we had 
negotiated the ledge, which is liable to unnerve anyone 
who is apt to become dizzy when looking down from a 

Glancing ahead, we could see a high, rolling ridge. 
It was promiscuously strewn with what looked like 
matches, but they were in reality fallen trees levelled 
by the wind after a fire. They appeared so thickly 
strewn as to be impassable. We were " up against it " 
now, as our friend the game warden had remarked. 
The prospect was appalling, becoming all the more so 


as we advanced. Within twenty minutes we were in 
the thick of it, slipping, floundering, reeling and tumbling 
among the tree-trunks. Eiding was quite an impos- 
sibility, so with rein over shoulder, and horse plodding 
along warily behind, we trudged forward. Now and 
again there would be a sudden wrench backwards as 
the horse slipped on to its knees, and as an unlucky 
throw from this cause might result in ugly contusions 
and possibly in broken limbs, the reins were thrown over 
the pommel, and the horse left, like the rider, to find 
its way as best it could. 

The time slipped by and we did not appear to make 
very appreciable progress up that mountain flank. 
Bruises and hard knocks from innumerable obstructions 
were our lot. And climbing over these hog-backs is 
as deceptive as galling. Ahead rises a steep ridge. You 
can see nothing beyond, and you spurt forward in the 
belief that it is the summit at last. You reach its 
crest and another juts up immediately in front of you. 
You plod steadily forward, but never seem any nearer 
the top. The trail, following the easiest path, doubles 
and redoubles on itself; in fact, in following its sinuous 
way you practically box the compass during every 
hundred yards. You do not walk, because you cannot; 
instead, advance is made in a series of slips, slides and 
crawls, with a sharp look-out for a dead trunk with 
short snags bristling like chevaux de frise. 

For three solid hours we groped our way upward, 
and then, just as we were despairing at the sight of a 
huge, precipitous hump, more formidable than any we 
had yet met, running right across the direction the trail 
was taking, the track, in its usual tantalising manner, 
swung round sharply and plunged into a thicket, from 
which it emerged on to a confined plateau, whence the 
hump fell away abruptly on all sides. We were at 
the top ! Our three hours' climb along three miles of 
execrable trail had brought us 1,100 feet nearer the 


clouds. But the spectacle unfolded was worth every 
ounce of physical exertion put into that toil. We had 
an unobstructed outlook through an arc of some 300 
degrees over an interminable expanse of the wildest 
mountain scenery one could possibly conceive. It was 
as if we were on the hub of a huge wheel lying on its 
side, for the ridges radiated from us like spokes in all 
directions. Passengers by the completed railway far 
below will gain a glorious view from the river level of 
walls of mountain, but they will miss the magnij5cent 
panorama of peaks that the crest of Eoche Miette provides. 

On the west a broad valley extended, carpeted with 
primeval forest, cut into countless patches by the ser- 
pentining channels of the Eocky Eiver. This is an evil 
waterway, which at its lowest level requires ten channels 
to carry its tumbling waters into the Athabaska, but, 
when in flood, needs a dozen more, for then its rush is 
fiendish, sweeping soil, trees and what not away like 
straws. Directly in front we could see where the 
Athabaska swung round a right-angle corner, and, 
following its course, saw its entrance into the large 
ham-shaped basin known as Jasper Lake, now a blazing 
mirror in the noonday summer sun. 

At the eastern end we could see the narrow cut 
through the rocky bank where the lake waters make 
their exit, and once more become the river, with its 
tributaries, the Snaring and Eocky Eivers, as well as 
numerous creeks, emptying in on either side. After 
rounding the Eoche Miette, the river breaks its bounds 
and sprawls across the whole valley, lapping the moun- 
tain bases on either hand. Snow-capped peaks con- 
fronted us in every direction, the Fiddle Back range, 
with its pinnacles beetling from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, 
framing the panorama in the form of a huge bow which 
lost its identity at both ends in a wild jumble of ragged, 
hoary crests. 

Cutting straight as an arrow through the trees at 


our feet was a broad, open causeway, looking like a 
giant's trail through the stagnant pools, forest and 
muskeg. This was the road for the iron horse, 100 feet 
in width, which is to stretch in an unbroken line from 
Atlantic to Pacific, and looking even then like a 
high road across the continent. The clearing gang had 
completed its task. All was ready for the steam shovel 
and ballast train to build up the truncated pyramid 
embankment for the two lines of steel, and they would 
be brought up as soon as the toe of the Koche Miette 
had been trimmed by dynamite to admit of their 

On the northern shore of Jasper Lake we could see 
a tumbledown ruin — the last remaining link of a bygone 
prosperity in this region. A century or so ago Jasper 
Lake was a humming hive. Here the Adventurers of 
Hudson's Bay had set up an outpost in charge of Jasper 
Hawes. The Indians flocked here to barter their furs, 
which were easily obtained, for the woods teemed with 
animals of all descriptions. Then, a few miles above, 
came the outpost of the North-Western Company, which 
w^as sufficiently bold to attempt to compete with the 
established English organisation. A keen rivalry sprang 
up for the Indians' harvests of fur. The struggle was 
sharp and bitter, but was not of long duration. Hudson's 
Bay could not be ousted from its entrenchments, and 
Henry House, as the competitive post was called, was 
vacated, and fell into decay. 

Then the fur trade dwindled to such an extent, owing 
to the depletion of the forests, that Jasper House scarcely 
paid expenses. When fire swept the outpost into oblivion, 
it was never rebuilt, though up to about twenty years 
ago the Hudson's Bay Company maintained a flying 
post here for a part of the season, but now even that is 
a thing of the past; Jasper Park knows the fur trader 
no longer, though the name has been perpetuated by 
its application to the national reserve of which the lake 


forms a part. The Indians round about nurse a belief 
that in the cellars of the ruins extensive consignments 
of "fire-water" still remain. No serious attempts have 
been made to discover the treasure, its existence being 
attributed to the lively Indian imagination. 

If the ascent of the Roche Miette was exasperating, 
the descent was ten times more so, owing to its ex- 
cessive steepness, which precluded any attempt at forcing 
the pace. On the west side the hump drops down 
almost perpendicularly, and, to descend, the trail saws 
the side in sharp, steep, short grades. It took us almost 
as long to drop into the valley as it had taken to ascend 
the opposite flank. 

When we reached the vale we had to strike off on 
another exciting hunt — the safest point at which to ford 
the main channel of the Rocky River. Sometimes one 
has to make a detour of as many as ten miles to get 
across this fierce waterway, and even then you may be 
in danger of being swept off your feet. Better luck 
favoured us, however, though the crossing was exciting, 
for the river was swinging along at about ten miles an 
hour, and was up to the girths of the pack-horses. 

Fording a river such as this produces a curious sen- 
sation. The horse cuts across the water at an acute 
angle to the direction of flow, so as to avoid the danger 
of being carried off its feet. You can feel the horse 
battling with the current, which swirls and curls wickedly 
round it. Then the horse cants over, and leans against 
the water. As you approach the opposite bank, this 
appears to be slipping by you at a terrific velocity, and 
you have the feeling of vainly pawing the water to get 
a grasp at the travelling terra firma. The greenhorn 
experiences a peculiar dizziness closely akin to mal de 
mer for a moment; the next he is on dry land. 

We stuck to the narrow winding trail curling through 
the trees, the tedium of the jog-trot being varied by a 
"hold up" in muskeg, until at last we emerged on to 


a park-like open low ridge which forms the southern 
bank of Jasper Lake, whose muddy-coloured waters — 
for the Athabaska was in flood and heavily charged with 
soil scoured out of the banks — offered a different aspect 
at close quarters from that presented from the distant 
elevation of the Eoche Miette, and stood out in vivid 
contrast against the limpid turquoise blue of the placid 
waters of Fish Lake on our left hand. 

The open character of the country was a welcome 
relief from that which we had been travelling over 
for some seven hours, and was strikingly reminiscent 
of the park-like, undulating stretches characteristic of 
rural England. We followed the sandy shore of Jasper 
Lake, which mirrored the ragged outline of the mountains 
on all sides, to its western end, and there fell on 
ill-luck — we lost the trail. 

It is an axiom among the pathfinders that where 
one man or horse has passed safely before, another can 
follow. Our tracker failed to observe the sharp bend 
the long beaten-down trail made through the woods, 
but kept his eye glued to a scarcely discernible track 
running at right angles in the opposite direction. This 
led us into a swamp, where the rushes and grass were 
growing to a height of five or six feet, and where we 
wallowed in three feet of fetid water and slime. The 
weeds were beaten down ahead, and the tracker stuck 
to the scarcely visible evidence of someone else's tracks 
like a sleuthhound. Now and again he would pause 
and look anxiously around for drier ground, but the 
dense bush gave no signs. For an hour and a half we 
battled with this slough (pronounced ' ' sloo ' ' in these 
parts), and wandered aimlessly round and round, for 
the scarcely discernible trail to which we clung so 
tenaciously proved a veritable will-o'-the-wisp. It was 
getting late, and the rapidly lengthening shadows told 
only too plainly that we should have to hasten if we 
were to camp in daylight. At last the tracker paused. 


"Gee, boys! I guess we've hit a blind steer." 

Those behind were pushing blindly on through the 
tall scrub, and all were spattered with viscx>us mud from 
head to foot. We crowded into a bunch. To retrace 
our footsteps would have taken another hour and a half, 
and falling darkness would have found us imprisoned 
in the slough. 

"Well, the Athabaska's ahead somewhere. Let's 
push on and find it. We'll have to camp in half an 
hour," commented Duggie, another packer, who was in 
consultation with the bell-boy. "Give her another 
quarter of an hour." 

Another resumption, but only for a few yards, since 
the swamp became deeper and deeper, while, to make 
matters worse, a stagnant creek crossed the trail and no 
signs of footprints on the opposite bank could be seen. 

"Stay here, I'll cruise about a bit." And digging 
his spurs into his horse, the leader blundered through 
the swamp along the stream to search for a crossing. 
In five minutes he returned, looking glum. 

"Well, we've got to get to the other side, anyway, 
and we might as well do it sooner as later. Saying 
which he sprang off his horse, and, wading up to his 
thighs through the stagnant slough, blundered into the 
stream, trusting blindly to luck that it would not be 
too deep. Bedraggled and wet, he crawled to the top 
of the opposite bank and yelled to us to follow him. 

We crashed through the rushes and swarmed into 
the stream in a happy-go-lucky manner. The other 
bank shelved up a trifle to a small dry patch. On that 
site we spent the night. In other circumstances we 
should have given it a wide berth, for, surrounded as 
it was by an evil-smelling, desolate waste of still water, 
it was enough to provoke a host of virulent epidemics. 
The taste of the water was as bad as its aroma, and, 
to make matters worse, it swarmed with mosquitoes. 

There was many a malediction heard in the tents 


that night, and many a furious battle with the persistent 
insects which swarmed to the attack. But we drank 
the water, which was more polluted than the effluent 
from an up-to-date sewage farm, without a thought of 
what might happen, for we were too tired to worry 
about such trifles. Still, we felt pretty sore when, after 
supper, one of the boys wandering round called out 
that the Athabaska was only fifty yards ahead. We 
had been grotesquely cutting circles and other designs in 
that swamp for about two hours, and all the time were 
within a stone's throw of the river, the shore of which 
offered an excellent camping-spot. Such is the luck of 
the trail. 

We were astir early next morning, thanks to the 
persistence of the pestilential mosquitoes and the nausea 
of the slough, and pressed along the Athabaska river. 
Before we had gone fifty yards along the bank we picked 
up the trail we had missed, and the leader was pretty 
healthily congratulated upon his eyesight, and strongly 
recommended to invest in a pair of powerful magnifying 
glasses when he got back to Edmonton. 

That day we had another slow and fatiguing wrestle 
with muskeg, rock and deadfall, intermingled with 
arduous climbs up and down mountain flanks. There 
are two trails — one on either side of the river — ^and had 
we crossed the Athabaska at the Eoche Miette we 
should have struck the easier one, which runs through 
tolerably level country. But it was useless to bemoan 
our ill luck. We had to cross the river shortly at all 
events, and pushed forward as fast as possible in order 
to do so that day. The toil of the trail, however, was 
compensated by the magnificent views we were able to 
obtain from repeated elevations — the white fang of 
Mount Geikie, towering up 11,000 feet into the clouds, 
and from our side presenting a solid wall of snow with 
a square-shaped crest, being particularly conspicuous 
and beautiful. 


We had been wandering slowly along for some four 
hours when the trail gave a sudden dip, and we came 
to the river level once more. The sight of a shack 
and a railed-in pasture spurred us on in the hope of 
seeing a living soul outside our own little party. We 
rode smartly up, only to be arrested by an aspect of 
absolute vacancy. The owners had gone. They were 
a small party of half-breeds, one of whom, the eldest 
daughter, we were somewhat anxious to meet, for we 
had heard that she was an inveterate and expert poker 
player, who had never known defeat, and had bled 
white men from far and near of their savings. One of 
our party was burning to lower her colours, and bitter 
was his chagrin when he found that he had drawn a 

At this point we had to cross the Athabaska, which 
here is about 600 feet wide, and rushes along at about 
eight miles an hour. One of the boys scouted down 
the bank and discovered a dilapidated Indian dug-out, 
with which he essayed to cross the river to discover 
the condition of the landing on the opposite shore. 
While he was absent the owner of the canoe turned up 
and wanted to know, with much carmine embellish- 
ment, who had commandeered his vessel, as he was in 
a hurry to get across. He somewhat resented our action, 
but calmed down when he found that his vapourings 
were only being wasted on the air. His wrath was 
completely turned aside by an invitation to supper. 

The next morning early, preparations were hurried 
forward to cross the waterway. A collapsible canoe 
had been secured, and this, with the crazy dug-out, 
served for the transportation of the baggage, a pro- 
ceeding that occupied four hours. Then came the most 
exciting incident of the enterprise — the driving across 
of the horses. They had to swim for it, and it was 
an active half-hour. 

A rope corral was built around a slope down the 


bank into the water, and in this the horses were cor- 
nered. When all was ready, the packers suddenly took 
leave of their senses. They indulged in blood-curdling 
yells, which would have startled a mummy, and jumped 
and danced in a manner that would have put the Indian 
to shame. The horses, taking fright, made for the 
water, the packers hallooing and shouting more fero- 
ciously than ever. But the bank of the Athabaska juts 
out a little below, and the leading horse, catching sight 
of this protuberance, made for it, with the others in his 
train, pursued by the yelling men on the bank, who 
endeavoured to head them off. Their demoniacal yells 
and gesticulations were fruitless, however; the horses 
gained the bank and stampeded into the bush. Then 
ensued a lively interlude rounding-up the animals and 
herding them into the corral once more. Further yelling, 
dancing and shrieking, fiercer than before, and again 
the horses took to the water to escape. To prevent a 
repetition of the preceding attempt, one of the boys 
pushed out in the dug-out, and there, adrift the stream, 
waving his arms like a maniac in a manner that 
threatened a capsize into the river every moment, drove 
the leading horses into the centre of the waterway, 
where, owing to the velocity of the current, the animals 
were soon engaged in a fierce struggle. Drifting some- 
what, blowing like whales, and almost exhausted, they 
contrived to make the bank, on which they stood 
trembling as the result of their trying experience. 
Crossing a furious river like the Athabaska is full of 
danger to animals, but it is a risk which cannot be 
eliminated from travelling through an unopened country. 

I crossed in the frail, collapsible canvas canoe, and 
as it ran into the bank a homy hand shot out to steady 
me up the crumbling slope. I grabbed it tightly, and 
the next instant was face to face with one of the most 
celebrated characters between Edmonton and the Pacific 
— Swift, the frontiersman. 

Swift, the Frontiersman, and his Famous Ranch 

An Immigrant from the States — The Spirit of Adventure — A First Failure 
— Tobogganing on a Grold-Pan — Back at the Athabaska — Fetching 
Supplies from Edmonton — Building a Flour-Mill — An Irrigation 


Unlike the majority of these pioneer settlers in the 
backwoods, Swift has not lost the gift of conversation; 
the silence of the forests has not dulled his spirits. 
His life is one continuous romance; his industry, re- 
Bourc© and ingenuity a striking object-lesson. H© can 
relate stories and experiences of the bush accumulated 
during a lonely life of nearly a quarter of a century, 
spiced with dramatic and humorous touches, to further 
order. His hospitality is immense. 

Swift is, or was, a citizen of the United States, but 
he has been so long in the Dominion that he regards 
himself as a thoroughbred Canadian. His father's home 
was somewhere down Washington way, but the States 
were not large enough for Young Hopeful. The spirit 
of adventure defied quenching ; the desire to go to the 
north could not be lived down. That he has had more 
than his fair share of roughing it, has had his ups and 
downs, and has been in some pretty tight corners at 
times, his own life-story soon proves, while his weather- 
beaten face tells its own tale of exposure to the elements 
and the vicissitudes of climate. He is as hard as 
nails, and is as much at home sleeping on a grassy 
couch beneath a tree in the starlit abbey of nature as the 
average Englishman between the sheets on a hair-spring 




"How did I get hyar? Well, upon my soul, I can 
hardly tell yar. I guess I jes' drifted hyar, that's all. 
One day down home, when I war a young strapper, 
I suddenly thought I'd like to go north somewhar — I 
didn't much mind whar. That war thirty odd years 
ago, and the State of Washington war not then what 
it is to-day. Well, I wandered off on the trail with jes' 
me gun and plug. I struck somewhat to the north- 
east, and kep' ploddin' along until one day I fell in 
with a bunch of hikers. They war goin' north too, so 
I jes' joins 'em for company's sake. We jaunted along, 
day after day, through the wilderness, never seein' a 
soul bar one or two Indians now and agen. We crossed 
the Kockies, and then struck due north. This country 
at that time war quite unknown. The Canadian Pacific 
war only just thought of, and the survey engineers hadn't 
even got to the mountains ; Edmonton war a Hudson's 
Bay post and no more. 

"We made Edmonton, and thar the bunch broke up. 
I got on to the Hudson's Bay trails, and my pard and I — 
for I had picked up a chum — came through the Eockies 
agen, cruised about a bit, struck Jasper House, which 
was then doin' business, and came on here. Somethin' 
seemed to draw me to this part, and although I went 
off first this way and then that, I war always pulled up 
by th' Athabaska Eiver jes' about hyar. At last, gettin' 
a bit tired o' wandrin' aroun', my pard and I thought 
we'd settle down and start farmin'. We staked off our 
ground, ran up a bit of a shack, and set to work. 

"But things didn't go right. My pard got in with 
th' Indians, and let work at the farm slide while I was 
out trappin'. At last the smash came. We had a few 
plain words ; my pard went his way, and I went mine. 1 
war determined that I would pay off all the debts and 
make a fresh start, but as things didn't look very 
promisin' hereabouts I went off prospectin'. I war a bit 
lucky, and at last war able to square up what we owed, 


and cast about to settle down once more. This district 
called me agen, and afore I had bin cruisin' about long, 
hyar I war on th' Athabaska. I squatted down on th' 
old farm, which had gone astray, and made a fresh start 
with a clean sheet. 

"But I'll tell yar an amusin' little thing as happened 
while we war out prospectin'. I fell in with another old 
guy on the same game — lookin' for gold. We went to- 
gether jes' for company like, and got right up on the 
mount'ns, whar we stayed all the summer. We war 
makin' our way back into th* valley with our gold-pan, 
shovel, pick, and other kit on our back. On th* way 
we struck a sheet of snow, and my pard got a bit in- 
genious like. He warn't goin* to walk ; he war going to 
terboggan down that snow-shoot — it 'ud save 'is feet a 
bit. Well, he untied his gold-pan, sat down in it, doubled 
up his legs so that his feet rested on the rim, packed his 
pick this side and his shovel that, with the rest of his 
outfit bundled up under his knees. 

"He started off, but he hadn't gone many yards down 
the slide before summut war up. That blarmed gold- 
pan, instead of goin' straight down like a respectable 
sledge, started spinnin' roun' like a top. As it shot down, 
it whizzed roun' faster and faster. The prospector lost 
his balance, his feet shot into th* air, and thar he war 
careerin' down iyin' on his back, yellin' and cussin' to 
beat the band. First his kit shot out on one side, then 
his shovel on th' other, while his pick went off somewhar 
else. I laughed till my sides ached, and my roars made 
my pard more furious than ever. Presently the pan got 
up to top speed, pitched him head first out, an' he went 
roUin' over and over until he pulled up against a bank 
o' snow. As for the gold-pan, that kept on goin', and we 
never saw it agen. My pard picked hisself up, rubbed 
hisself like fury ; and when I came up to him he war 
still swarin' and cussin' worse 'n an Indian, for he war 
nothin' else but bruises from top to bottom. No more 


war sed about shootin' a snow-slide on a gold-pan, I can 
tell yar. It war a sore p'int with him." 

Swift, according to his own statement, squatted down 
in this district about five-and-twenty years ago. It was 
hard going at first, for he was pretty well all alone, 
save for a few Indians and one or two half-breeds in 
Jasper Park. He staked off some 2,000 acres on the 
hill-side, which gradually slopes down from the feet of 
the mountains, hemming him in behind, to the river's 
bank, giving him a nice stretch of tolerably open flat near 
the water. The country was covered for the most part 
with poplar and cotton wood, with a few large Douglas 
firs here and there. In order to secure a constant supply 
of pure, fresh water, he pitched his shack beside a rush- 
ing creek rising amid the snows of Pyramid Mountain, 
the four-sided, pointed white peak of which just peeps 
over a mountain wall and keeps its eye on his back door 
from a height of 8,000 feet. His tools comprised an axe 
and hammer. With these he shaped some respectable 
logs and built his shack, chinking the interstices with 
moss, and crudely shingling the roof. At the front the 
roof projects, forming a stoep where he receives visitors, 
for no passer-by omits, under any pretence, to look up 
Swift, a rough welcome, the swopping of a few yarns, 
items of news and bush gossip serving to break the 
monotony of life in the wilderness. 

As his personal requirements in regard to the neces- 
sities of life were few, he only cultivated about two acres 
of land. This is within a stone's throw of his home, and 
on practically level surface; the remainder was largely 
used for grazing purposes. But Swift practised no half- 
methods. When he had got a roof over his head and 
had broken his plot of ground, he trudged off to Edmon- 
ton, about 350 miles distant, for supplies. He bought 
provisions, seeds for his land, and a few head of cattle, 
which he drove home over the trail, making them swim 
the Athabaska. This in itself was an undertaking from 


which many men would have shrunk, and he paints 
vivid pictures of the difficulties he encountered with his 
stock during that tedious drive over the execrable, littered, 
narrow path. 

On arriving home at last, he seeded his ground 
with vegetables and what not. Planting finished, he set 
to work upon improvements, and to-day uses the very 
tools he then contrived with so much effort, and at the 
expenditure of considerable inventiveness. He felled a 
huge fir having a solid cylindrical trunk. A section about 
6 feet long and about 2 feet in diameter was cut out and 
turned into a roller, the shafts being crudely fashioned 
from small straight jack pine. His plough and harrow 
are likewise fashioned primitively from wood, as are also 
his other garden implements. He uses them to this 
day, regarding his handiwork with justifiable pride, and 
disdaining the idea of resorting to modern tools. 

His greatest anxiety was in regard to his flour. This 
commodity is weighty for transport, and large quantities 
had to be brought in every time he made the trip to 
Edmonton — a journey which, owing to its trials, dangers, 
and laborious character, he only took about once a year. 
Even then it entailed his absence from home for a month 
or six weeks. At last he decided to attempt to solve this 
problem himself by building a mill. He secured a small 
corn grinder in Edmonton, and set to work to fashion a 
waterwheel. That waterwheel is Swift's greatest 
achievement. Bearing in mind the fact that the only 
tools at his command were an axe, adze, saw, hammer 
and nails, and that he was single-handed, his achievement 
is a striking tour de force. 

"It war a tough job and no error," Swift remarked as 
he showed us his handiwork, "an' it took me more weeks 
'n I can remember to rig it up, workin' from dawn to 
twilight. But I never felt so proud of meself as when 
I at last cried ' Done ! ' and threw down my tools. I war 
not long in seein' whether it would work or not. I fixed 


up th' corn mill, yanked on the belt, and opened the 
sluice. It war some little while 'fore the wheel gave any 
signs o' movin', and I war half afraid that summut had 
gone wrong somewhar, when thar war a creakin' and a 
grindin', and it began to move. I let in more water, and 
soon it war poundin' round steadily, an' the little pulley 
on the corn mill war whizzin' round to beat th' band. 
Then I didn't care a hang. When harvest time came 
round I got my wheat in, threshed it as best I could, and 
set th' box o' tricks to work. That flour was perfect. 
Sure that wheel war a pretty tough proposition, but it 
war the best summer's work I ever put in. What it has 
meant to me you cannot guess, but I've not had to go to 
Edmonton to fetch flour for ten years past, and that has 
lifted a pretty heavy load off my mind, I can tell yar." 

Swift, however, did not rest on his oars. The summer 
sun is hot, and sometimes weeks will go by without a 
drop of rain falling, and that just at the period when 
the crops long for a drink. A failure of his crops would 
spell disaster. Swift saw that, and was resolved to take 
no chances. He drove a ditch from his tiny mill-pond 
right through his cultivated patch from one end to the 
other. On either side of this main channel he cut lateral 
shallow trenches. Every one is fitted with a primitive 
sluice gate at its junction with the main ditch, while the 
latter is similarly fitted at the pond. When the ground 
becomes somewhat parched. Swift just diverts a portion 
of the water from the stream, sends it surging down the 
main ditch, and then turns it on to the ground, flooding 
the farm just when, where, and to what extent he deems 

When we arrived, his farm was a picture of flourish- 
ing fertility. The vegetables were healthy and well 
nourished, the potatoes of large size, and the corn in 
first-class condition. Swift never knows what a shortage 
is in his crops; irrigation, primitive though it may be, 
has saved them time after time. "After I got these jobs 


done," pointing to the improvements, "I only made that 
700-mile trip to Edmonton and back once a year, travellin' 
light jes' to fetch letters like," he chuckled. Witnessing 
the many striking evidences of his enterprise ajid in- 
genuity, I suggested that he should go on, harness the 
creek a bit more, and generate his ovs^n electricity. " So 
I vrould," he rapped back, "but I don't understand th' 
blarmed thing. Th' juice beats me." As he accom- 
panied these reflections with a ruminating scratch of his 
head, I went away with the half-smothered idea that, if 
he remained on his farm, he would set about electrically 
lighting his shack before long. 

The Lonely Trail to the Yellowhead Pass 

From the Athabaska to the Miette — A Delectable Supper — In a World 
of Silence — Fertile Prairies in a Defile — Dominion Prairie — Baseball 
with Bannock — An Adventure at Derr Creek. 

Striking on from Swift's oasis in the wilderness, we 
followed the rift in the range through which the 
Athabaska flows swiftly, drawing nearer and nearer to 
the solid, snow-covered wall, Mount Geikie, rising up 
defiantly sheer before us directly ahead. The trail, fol- 
lowing the cleared grade of the Grand Trunk Pacific, 
became somewhat easier for a few miles, it only being 
necessary to keep a sharp look-out for tree-stumps, against 
which the pack-horses would stumble ever and anon. On 
the southern side the river was hemmed in by the per- 
pendicular serried bluffs of the Colin range, while on the 
north side a similar battlemented array of cliffs over- 
looked us. The view of Mount Geikie, standing out in 
bold relief against the azure blue sky, however, was one 
of exquisite beauty, and amply redeemed the constricted 
range of vision on either hand. 

Svnnging past the tumbled valley, its steep slopes 
clothed in primeval, impenetrable forest, through which 
the Maligne Eiver forces its mysterious way from Medi- 
cine Lake nestling at the foot of the other side of the 
Colin range, we dropped down to the water-side of the 
Athabaska once more. A lonely grave in a small, railed-in 
enclosure, where a whitened stone commemorated an un- 
timely death by drowning in the surging river, once more 
recalled the description we had heard uttered more than 
once as to this waterway being a "holy fright." Then, 



when it seemed as if the towering mountain in front cut 
off all further progress, the trail reclimbed the northern 
slope, and turned sharply to the west. 

But we merely swung from one river to another. The 
rushing Miette, of great width at its confluence with the 
Athabaska, and boiling like a maelstrom, was now our 
companion. The broad valley of the Athabaska gave way 
to a narrower passage, the walls of which ran sharply up 
from the edge of the river bank towards the clouds. It 
IS a sombre defile. The mountain flanks are tumbled, 
scrub-covered and littered with deadfall. The shadows 
of the hills were thrown right across the trail, 
wrapping it in a diffused light, but in the extreme dis- 
tance, at the head of the gulch, rose three lofty pinnacles, 
the snow caps of which gleamed brilliantly. For supper 
that night we had some of the finest rainbow trout that 
the mountain streams could yield, as two of the boys, 
while camp was being pitched and the evening meal was 
in preparation, wandered off up the hill-sides, following a 
creek until they lighted upon two small lakes where the 
fish were so plentiful and voracious that a score, ranging 
in weight from 7 to 14 ounces apiece, were landed in half 
an hour. These two lakes were literally crammed with 
rainbow trout, and those of keen angling instincts were 
somewhat disappointed that we pushed ahead early the 
following morning. 

We had now struck the lonely desolate trail in deadly 
earnest. It had been bad before, but then we were all 
the time in proximity to the railway construction camps, 
and somehow the going felt easier. A certain volume of 
trafiic had helped to beat down the track, while the roar 
of rock-splitting dynamite, the chink-chink of drills, and 
the spitting of steam were company. Now we were in a 
silent world. The forest was hushed save for a long- 
drawn-out sigh, as a puff of wind mournfully swished 
through the trees. No pipe or twitter of a bird was to be 
heard, for song birds do not venture into these wilds. 


Now and again would be heard the croaking of a raven 
perched on some bare, withered branch pushing its dismal 
outhne against the sky, or the savage screech of a bald- 
headed eagle as he hovered above us. The pervading soli- 
tude was broken only by the murmuring of the Miette 
or the roar of melted snows cascading down the steep 
mountain slopes. 

Up and down we laboriously threaded our way, now 
slowly crawling along a loose, rock-strewn ledge, scarcely 
defined, on the side of a hump, then ploughing madly 
through a morass down by the river-side. We were pene- 
trating the heart of the range. The mountains grew 
more formidable around us, shooting upwards in terraces 
of thickly wooded banks, mirroring all shades of green, 
with here and there a snowy cone jutting above the timber 
to offer striking contrast. As we pushed farther west the 
defile grew more and more like a fissure, suddenly open- 
ing out here and there into a large flat expanse smothered 
with grasses, vetches and weeds, upon which the pack- 
horses fell furiously — whenever they had the opportunity. 
These little prairies are of small area, but will make ex- 
cellent farms when the country is rendered accessible. 
The bottom is saucer-like, the lowest point being heavily 
waterlogged and boggy, but a trench through the rim will 
empty this superfluous moisture into the river or creek 
flowing near by. They are covered with scrub, dank 
and tangled, which, however, can be quickly cleared by 
fire. The soil is really decomposed vegetable matter, and 
when drained will prove of extraordinary fertility. 

Being aware of the characteristic canniness of the 
Western pioneer in grabbing land which has any pre- 
tensions to agricultural value, if not to farm himself, to 
hold as a speculation, it seemed somewhat strange that 
these flats had not been appropriated , for of this we could 
see no signs. One night some wanderers on the trail 
struck our camp. As we were chatting round the fire, 
after disposing of a substantial rude evening meal, I 


remarked upon this apparent apathy of the enterprising 

"Don't you worry, sonny," was the reply. "All these 
likely spots have been well looked over and sized up. 
It's too much trouble to homestead just at the moment, 
but a sharp eye is being kept on them ready for seizure 
when the railway comes along." 

The trail clings tenaciously to the Miette, and though 
the mountains of the same name, clothed with timber 
from the water's edge to the line where vegetation ceases 
to exist, shut in our view to the south, we had inspiring 
glimpses straight ahead. The three white cones we had 
espied when we swerved away from the Athabaska still 
loomed up before us. We toiled up humps, and dropped 
into abysses at the other side, wound round this spur and 
laboured up that, but those three peaks could not be 
evaded, though they seemed to approach no nearer. Their 
persistent jutting into the blue sky whetted our curiosity, 
and one evening, after camp, we tediously climbed foot 
over foot, sliding and slipping over deadfall piled six and 
eight feet high, up a steep slope for some 500 feet to 
secure an uninterrupted view of their scarred flanks. It 
was a hard pull, but we were well rewarded, for we gained 
a bare shoulder from which we could see right up the 
valley, which was no more than a sharp V — as if a wedge 
had been driven into the mountains by cyclopean fury — 
garbed in green trees down each limb, with the silver 
streak of the Miette in the inverted apex. We were look- 
ing through the defile along which the trail wound like a 
snake, admitting to the Yellowhead Pass, and these three 
grim peaks, the jagged teeth of a formidable range, were 
standing sentinel over the gulch. Looking behind, w^e 
could see nothing but the two steeply sloping walls rising 
to 6,000 feet or more on either side, and forming a gloomy 
alley, all the gloomier at the moment as the bottom was 
wrapped in the darkness of approaching night. It was 
just as narrow a passage ahead, but, lit by the last slanting 


rays of the setting sun, striking through a narrow side 
gorge, and bathing rock, snow, tree and bush in a galaxy 
of soft tints which no palette could faithfully record, it 
was an enchanting picture. 

The bottom of this narrow defile was so depressing, 
owing to constriction of outlook, that we pushed forward 
energetically until we emerged upon Dominion Prairie, 
which is first an exasperating stretch of marsh , conducive 
neither to rapid progress nor to the maintenance of 
good temper, but which afterwards became drier and 
easier. We hastened through the grass, four or five feet in 
height, among burned and scorched carcases of jack pine, 
to be pulled up by an unexpected obstacle. We had been 
enjoying several days of sweltering hot weather, which 
had melted the snows on the mountains, and had swollen 
Derr Creek, the conduit for this glacial water into the 
Miette, to an exceptional degree. We had been antici- 
pating flood water from our experience in crossing the 
Miette some distance below, for the trail drops uncere- 
moniously into the river four times in three miles in order 
to avoid steep rocky bluffs, which tumble to the water's 
edge too abruptly to be rounded on dry land. But to find 
Derr Creek tearing along with mad velocity, a mass of 
foam, sweeping boulders, trees and what not before it 
as contemptuously as if they were straws, was something 
upon which we had not counted. We pitched camp 
early in the afternoon to make a thorough reconnais- 
sance of the river, since the regular ford was absolutely 

After supper we scoured round for some diversion. 
Then the party lighted upon some remnants of bannock, 
cooked a week or so before, and of the shape of dough- 
nuts or dumplings. The first was picked up and thrown 
disgustedly against a tree. The ball didn't break, but 
the bark was chipped. That gave the discoverer an idea. 
Smiling contentedly, he picked up the bannock, rum- 
maged out a short club, and sailed up with these articles 


to the remainder of the company who were smoking round 
the camp fire. 

" Say, boys, how about a round at baseball? " 
"Eight, you find the ball, and we're game! " 
"Here you are ! " And he tossed the globe of petri- 
fied flour and baking-powder into the group. 

There was a yell of mirth, but the shriek was ten 
times louder when one of the boys threw the solidified 
aggregation at the batsman, who, with a mighty swipe, 
sent it hurtling for about fifty yards and recovered his 
"ball " uninjured ! That ball gave us a solid half-hour's 
amusement, until one unlucky crack caught it on a vulner- 
able spot and broke it in halves. Baseball with bannock 
was the cause of many a chuckle during the rest of the 

We had a lively time negotiating Derr Creek. The 
packers, by dint of much ferreting and sounding, had 
found an easier point for crossing. It was deep, and the 
water tore along viciously, spitting round the horses' 
flanks. More than one animal was swung into a hole 
and plunged wildly for a few seconds, until his feet re- 
gained the bottom. 

Marsh and meadow were now our lot for a few miles, 
and then, the ground becoming softer and softer, we were 
driven towards the mountain wall to seek drier land, 
where the going, though more up and down, was some- 
what easier than ploughing our way through dangerous 
sloughs. Indeed, we could not have traversed the latter 
had we so desired, for we saw where the surveying 
engineers, in their plotting of the line, had been having 
a pretty stiff tussle in the bog. Then the mountains on 
the north began to press on the Miette, forcing us to its 
bank, and plunging us into more difficulties among loose 
rock, bog-holes, and heavy deadfall. The barrier loom- 
ing up more and more immediately before us indicated 
only too forcibly that we should be called upon presently 
to ford the river, and after wandering for a little while 


TKe bush chef's kitchen fire and primitive fork — a cleft stick 
cut from a willow. 


among the back waters, we at last emerged on a low 
bank of shingle, shelving gradually into the river. The 
Miette proper at this point is little wider than an average 
English brook, but, owing to its sudden grade, runs down- 
hill with savage speed. There is a general belief that 
rapidly flowing streams are shallow. However true that 
may be in regard to respectable, well-ordered and known 
waters in the home country, it certainly does not apply 
to the backwood rivers of Canada, as I found to my cost. 

The river is littered with log-jams, round which the 
water curls and eddies. The leading horse passed over, 
and the water scarcely reached above its fetlocks. My 
pack-horse, while fording, suddenly became somewhat 
enterprising, and started off on a side exploration, with 
the result that it slipped off the ford, and landed in deep 
water. The brute kicked and struggled, but the more it 
plunged the deeper it got into difficulty. It could not 
regain its feet, hampered with me on its back, and the 
treacherous current threw both of us into a hole against 
a log-jam. There the water attempted to force us round 
the edge of the obstruction, with its current swinging 
along at about twelve miles an hour, and so, to assist the 
horse, I decided to cast off and gain the bank along the 
massive tree against which I was pinned. But no sooner 
had I swung one foot clear of the stirrup than the wicked 
undertow caught me, twisted me round, and left me 
hanging by my fingers on the end of the trunk. I 
tried to draw myself up on to the log, but the pace of the 
water was too much, and I felt myself slowly slipping, my 
finger nails cutting into the wood and my legs absolutely 
incapable of muscular effort. Luckily Lett, one of the 
party, turned round on his horse and saw my predicament. 
In a flash he sprang off his horse, and was walking rapidly 
along the tree trunk, which groaned and creaked under 
his weight. 

"Lookout! You'll have both of us in," I yelled. But 
he came on. 



Just as my j&ngers gave another slip of an inch or 
so round the tree, he grabbed me by the collar and pulled 
hke grim death. But there was no impression. The 
suck of the water was too powerful, while the glacial 
temperature had deprived my legs of all power to co- 
operate. He made another lunge. 

"Up ! Oo — 00 — 00 ! Now then ! " Saying which he 
gave a savage tug, and got me higher on the log, when 
I was able to assist him, though that rotting trunk was 
bending and creaking ominously. Had he been a minute 
later, there would have been a wooden cross stuck up on 
the bank of the Miette, for no swimmer could have lived 
five minutes in those waters. 

When I got ashore my legs were completely numbed, 
and the icy coldness prevented the return of circulation 
for some little time. I got astride my pack-horse with 
difficulty. Now it was as docile as a lamb, and the pic- 
ture of innocence. It never attempted any further un- 
rehearsed circus performances while I was on its back. 

Now the trees of the endless forest became taller, 
nobler, and of greater girth as we advanced. We were 
approaching the eastern portal to British Columbia. The 
ground sloped up gradually. We climbed the acclivity 
and called a halt. There, under the gigantic firs, through 
which the brilliant sunshine with difficulty forced its way, 
we stood beside a small post, no more than four feet in 
height, a silent monument of years of untiring effort on the 
part of engineering enterprise, in which British energy 
has played no inconspicuous part, for it marks the highest 
point to which the steel track of the Grand Trunk Pacific 
will be lifted in its span of 3,556 miles between the 
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans — the Yellowhead Pass. 

Picking up the Source of the Fraser River 

The Yellowhead Pass — Derivation of this and other Names — The Yellow- 
head Lake and its Trout — A Bad Character among Rivers — A 
Fierce Trail — Two of the Horses get " Snagged " — Crossing the 
Moose River — Alongside the Moose Lake — Canadian Distances. 

At the mention of the word "mountain pass " popular 
imagination conjures up a defile, a few feet in width, 
winding tortuously between two mountain walls running 
up perpendicularly for several hundred feet, shadowing 
the bottom of the gulch, through which a tumultuous 
river is speeding its cascading way in gloom. How- 
ever true such a description may be of some mountain 
passes, it certainly does not apply to the Yellowhead, 
which measures about one thousand feet from side to 
side. Indeed, you would never know that you were at 
the "pass" if you failed to observe that the Miette on 
your right hand when you face the north is running 
east to swell the Atlantic, while on your left the streams 
turn westward to the Pacific — except, indeed, for that 
insignificant four-foot post, merely a squared, slender 
tree-stump. Even if it caught your eye you would be 
somewhat perplexed probably by the hieroglyphics in- 
scribed on one of its faces, thus : — 

L.B. M. 3720. 
G. T. P. 

They indicate the surveying engineer's crowning triumph , 
and show where the Rocky Mountains will be threaded 
by the iron road at a lower altitude than has ever been 
achieved before. Interpreted, it means: "Location 



Bench Mark, 3,720 feet above sea-lsvel. Grand Trunk 
Pacific." One cannot help contrasting the engineer's 
achievement in this latitude with that many hundred 
miles to the south, in Colorado, where in order to carry 
the railway over the same formidable range the metals 
had to be lifted to an altitude of some 10,000 feet above 
the ocean-level. 

There is much speculation as to how and why these 
rifts through the Eockies have received their curious 
appellations. Yet the explanation is very simple, for 
there is concealed beneath the apparently irrelevant and 
sometimes bizarre nomenclature some little incident 
whereby the cognomen was suggested. The Yellow- 
head Pass was so christened by the Indians because a 
famous trapper in the service of Jasper Hawes, at the 
Hudson's Bay outpost in Jasper Park, flitted to and 
fro through this breach in the mountain wall between 
the post and the Eraser Eiver, whereby he reached Fort 
George, some 400 miles distant to the west. He was 
an Iroquois of huge stature and physique, blessed with 
flowing locks of bright auburn hair, and the Indians, 
with their quaint aptitude, promptly dubbed him "Tete 
Jaune," while the path he followed through the moun- 
tains became known as the "Pass of Tete Jaune," 
afterwards turned into its briefer English equivalent, 
"Yellowhead Pass." 

The various other passes in this range can point 
to equally relevant reasons for the names they bear. 
The "Pine River" Pass was so called owing to the 
mountain slopes being clothed with dense stretches of 
firs ; the Wapiti Pass because of the large w^apiti deer 
in its neighbourhood ; the Peace Eiver Pass because 
it was the scene of a pow-wow and conclusion of peace 
between opposing bands of Indians after a fierce, pro- 
longed battle ; Moberly's Pass from the fact that Mr. 
Walter Moberly, C.E., found this path through the 
mountains for the Canadian Pacific. Eoger's Pass is 


named after Major A. B. Rogers, who, after many priva- 
tions and adventurous experiences, first threaded this 
defile in 1881 ; Eagle Pass from an eagle which, by its 
flight, showed a way through the apparently solid wall 
to Mr. Walter Moberly, who, after a wearisome search 
on foot, had failed to find a single break in the barrier. 
The Kicking Horse Pass has probably occasioned the 
greatest discussion, the most generally accepted theory 
being that at this point an American survey engineer, 
named Randolph, received a severe kick on the knee 
from his horse while trying to force his way through 
the mountains. My own investigations point to a totally 
different origin. The pass was used by traders long 
before Randolph arrived, being, in fact, a somewhat 
favoured highway to the coast. While one of the pack 
trains was passing through the rift, at that time un- 
named, two uncontrollable bronchos ran amok, threw 
the whole train into sixes and sevens, every animal parti- 
cipating in the general disorder, and each landing out 
with its feet in all directions at every and any thing. 
It was only with great difficulty that quiet was restored, 
and the traders, whenever referring to that locality, 
always mentioned it as the "Pass where the horses 
kicked," and this, in time, became condensed into 
"Kicking Horse Pass." 

The vegetation changed with startling suddenness, 
for tall, imposing firs, as straight as arrows, towered 
a couple of hundred feet or so above us, while the bush 
was thickly matted with the tall fire-weed or wild 
honesty, whose spikes of pink gave the ground a glorious 
carpet. Here again, unfortunately, fire had wrought 
widespread damage, for the trees stood gaunt and life- 
less, with bark shed in large patches like Jagged skin 
abrasions, showing the hard wood underneath in a silvery 
coat produced by the action of weather. 

Presently a gigantic mirror flashed through the trees. 
We were rounding the eastern arm of Yellowhead Lake, 


which from its idyllic situation, clear, transparent 
hue, and reflection of snow-capped battlements and 
pinnacles, may be aptly described as the Lucerne of 
British Columbia. We skirted the north side and 
secured a glorious view of Mount Peelee rearing its 
crest above the green sea, the white snow on its summit 
contrasting vividly with its variegated rocky flanks, the 
strata of which reflect myriad colours from the minerals 
which enter into their formation. Only its head could 
be seen, as a rich forest garbed the ridge, dropping 
steeply into the lake. These waters are alive with trout, 
among which may be found some patriarchs of the 
Dolly Varden and rainbow varieties. Angling from the 
bank returned us no luck, however, owing to the trans- 
parency and shallowness of the water, but when we 
unearthed a flimsy log raft, evidently used by some 
trapper in the bygone days, and one of the most 
daring of the company poled off with a line trolling 
behind, he soon hooked a splendid three-pounder, which 
recompensed him for a shaky journey and threatened 
foundering of his crazy craft. 

The trail wound along the rough bank to the western 
end of the lake, where the outlet, a shallow brook, 
flows a few hundred yards through the trees and then 
bends sharply westward to join another creek. We had 
struck one of the sources and the confluence of the 
most ill-famed, albeit the most inspiring, the noblest 
and longest river in British Columbia — the Fraser. The 
arm we followed was quiet enough, but its other limb 
was a tumbling, rushing mountain torrent, and such 
the river is for the whole of its 700 odd miles. We had 
picked up one of the sources of this famous river near 
its birth at the pass, traced it into Yellowhead Lake, 
and thence out again at the opposite end. For the 
next 400 miles or so we clung to this waterway — 
because we were compelled for the most part — and 
so we were able to follow its growth from a mere ditch 


but a few inches in width to an estuary miles across. 
Simon Fraser when he first hghted on this waterway, 
thinking it the Columbia, called it the "Bad Kiver." 
Such it is in very truth. 

Even in the upper reaches those few pioneers and 
traders who are unavoidably brought into contact with 
it evince for it a great respect, and with good reason. 
When the two limbs in which it has its rise meet, the 
river rapidly assumes a more imposing width and com- 
mences to foam and boil. A short distance below the 
confluence it makes a sharp right-angled turn, shooting 
round the corner with fearful velocity, and forming a 
vicious whirlpool in the eddy. Then come lengths of 
rapids where the steeply falling grade gives the water 
a fierce impetus, provoking a sea of short, choppy 
wavelets curling in foam. So it is the whole way to the 
sea — whirlpools, canons, falls and rapids, and it demands 
a skilful navigator indeed to wend his way through such 
treacherous waters. 

Its roar was a constant accompaniment to our move- 
ment. But the trail was fierce. Now we were crawling 
gingerly along a ledge, only a few inches in width, cut 
in the face of a cliff. Trees and boulders freely dis- 
puted our progress. A little later we were in mud 
among dense undergrowth, keeping a sharp eye for an 
unlucky blow from a "devil's club," a plant whose 
broad, flat leaves and branches carry at their outer end 
a small bristly sphere. The tendrils trail aimlessly along 
the ground, and should you tread on one, the spiky 
bludgeon may fly up and give you a jarring blow, in- 
flicting a nasty wound. One of the packers was so 
unfortunate as to receive such a blow on the cheek, 
and he was troubled with an inflamed, suppurating 
wound for days. 

The trail became worse and worse as the ground 
became more rocky and precipitous. The horses had to 
perform unrehearsed feats. More than once an almost 


perpendicular descent became imperative. The trail led 
into a cul-de-sac between rocks. There was a sharp 
hairpin bend, and not enough space for the animal to 
turn round. To get round the bend it had to warp and 
hop in an extraordinary manner. The bend negotiated, 
there was a steep, angular slide down which it would 
toboggan, then another similar hairpin bend, more 
sliding and warping in turns, until at last it pulled up 
in a mud hole or flung the rider sideways against a tree. 
You looked behind, and there was the trail winding up the 
hill-side in a series of Z's piled one on top of the other. 
The ascent was the same, only if anything more tiring, 
since the acclivity was too steep to attempt to ride. 

On this stretch we met with what might be described 
as our first serious mishap. While attempting to jump 
an uprooted tree, one of the horses got "snagged" — 
impaled by one of the short, bayonet-pointed dead 
branches. The accident was not discovered until more 
than an hour afterwards, when curiosity was aroused 
by a trail of fresh blood. A search along the train 
found the animal limping along in agony, and weak 
from loss of blood. Examination revealed a terrible 
wound, from which a jagged splinter some three inches 
in length was withdrawn. The injury was temporarily 
bathed, the load removed from the animal's back, and 
it was allowed to follow slowly along in our wake till 
camp was pitched, when a thorough dressing was effected. 
The following morning the poor brute was stiff, weak, 
and still suffering, so our pace was reduced to a mere 

Grant Brook was forded with difficulty, for the 
rushing stream was like a millrace, so that the horses 
had a lively crossing. The valley was depressing, though 
the thick bush offered us some welcome shelter from 
the fierce summer sun blazing from a cloudless sky. 
On the other hand, when we were on an elevation we 
were given extensive views of romantic scenery. The 



north bank of the river, along which we were limping, 
is a broken succession of ridges bending from the main 
range, with its castellated summits, fantastically carved 
by Nature, standing out bare and grim from the devas- 
tation of bush fires and rock slides. The south bank 
ran up from the water's edge at a stiff slope, and was 
a wealth of green timber where the fire fiend had wrought 
scarcely any havoc, with here and there silvery ribbons 
winding in and out where the melting snows were 
cascading from crag to crag, from 60 to 150 feet apart, 
with a loud purring into the Fraser below. 

Two prospectors on their gaunt horses passed us on 
the trail speeding Edmonton wards. They pulled up for 
a brief conversation, and vouchsafed the intelligence 
that Moose River required careful crossing, as it was in 
high flood, and scarcely fordable. They advised us to 
push on so as to cross before four o'clock, when it 
would begin to rise. We accepted their advice and 
hurried our horses. But we were doomed to disappoint- 
ment. At the ford the river is about 150 feet wide, 
and when we arrived the water was rushing along 
with torrential fury. Soundings gave a depth of about 
six feet, and with a current swirling so fiercely it was 
possible that the smaller horses might get washed off 
their feet, and at any rate the packs would get wet, if 
some were not lost. 

That was certain, said the packers, and a halt to 
permit the waters to fall a few inches was decided 
upon. These rivers assume their greatest depth and 
fiercest disposition in midsummer, and as we had been 
experiencing several days of almost tropical heat, the 
melting of the snows up in the mountains had been 
unduly heavy, hence the rise in the river. We did not 
anticipate a de^ay of more than a few hours, but it 
resolved itself into a wait of four days in a most in- 
hospitable spot, on a flat void of all shelter and infested 
with mosquitoes and bull-dog flies. 


The " hold-up " was seized as an opportunity to 
permit the lame horse to recuperate somewhat under 
careful nursing and dressing of his injury. Then another 
mishap occurred. One of the best animals, in cantering 
through the brush after being turned loose, got snagged 
in the eye by a dead branch. When the horse was 
discovered the eye was invisible, the socket and lid 
fearfully inflamed and bleeding. Careful examination 
showed no sign of the eyeball, and it was feared that 
it had been jabbed out. Two animals were now hors 
de combat. 

There was a narrow, deep gulch in the Kainbow 
Mountains through which the Moose Kiver flowed, and 
we struck up the waterway to search for another point 
of crossing. It was a matter of about half a mile to the 
defile as the crow flies, but it took us a solid hour 
and a half to reach the point, slipping and sliding among 
gaunt, prone trunks with their bristling snags. When 
we reached the ravine we found the width of the river 
narrowed to about a third of what it was down below, 
and here the troubled waters in flood were thundering 
in a torment after pouring over a ledge some fifty feet 
in height in a beautiful fall. The canon is one of wild 
beauty, for the poplar, spruce and pine rise up from 
the water's edge. With the greatest difficulty we 
swarmed along the side of the gulch to where the waters 
pour through a channel scarcely twenty feet in width. 
Conversation was impossible, for the roar of the cascade 
drowned all shouts. At the top of the fall, which is 
lined on either side by huge rocks, we found that a 
crude bridge had been thrown across by the survey 
engineers, merely by lopping down three trees so that 
they stretched the chasm, for the railway is to run 
across the mouth of the canon. Just what horse-power 
is running to waste at this point only the engineer 
can say, but an estimate of 10,000 would not be 
an exaggeration, for the river falls very rapidly to 


A frail bridge of fe 


the brink of the 

d trees dropped across 


the rift, and the whole volume has to pass over the 

The bridge appeared so frail that at first there was 
hesitancy in trusting thereto, especially as the brink of 
the fall was barely three feet below, and a slip would 
mean — well, a pretty good ducking at the least. A few 
strokes of the axe and two more trees lay across the 
gap. One ventured over, and though the bridge bent and 
creaked ominously, and demanded a little Blondin-like 
dexterity to preserve equilibrium, it was decided that 
no further delay should be caused by the swollen river, 
but that we should let the pack train swim the torrent 
the next day, ourselves following by the bridge. 

Up early the following morning, w© found the river 
higher than ever, so while six of us set out on the toil 
to the falls, the packers got ready to ford or swim, 
trusting to luck to negotiate the waters safely. As our 
detour of three miles would occupy about two hours, we 
set off immediately after breakfast and reached the 
bridge. It was slimy and wet from spray, and our 
crossing would have afforded illimitable opportunities to 
a cartoonist. The first went boldly, waving his arms 
like a frantic windmill to preserve his balance, for it 
was no more than inches wide ; the second crawled 
across with his eyes shut; the next went on all fours 
like a cat ; another poled it ; his successor bravely set 
out to walk normally, but half-way across changed his 
mind and went on all fours, for the slippery surface 
of the trees could not be trusted. 

Rejoining the pack-train, which had got across safely, 
and fortunately with but little damage, we resumed our 
"hike," That day was destined to be the hardest we 
experienced ; the going was the worst which it had been 
our ill-luck to fall against, for the trail was the most 
execrable of the whole 250 miles. It wound along the 
north bank of the Moose Lake, which is really an en- 
largement of the Fraser River to about one mile at the 


broadest part, over a basin about seven and a half miles 
long. The man who first guided his horse along its 
banks must have started out boldly, and, after going 
a few miles, must have swum to the opposite end of 
the sheet of water. He who came in his wake followed 
his predecessor's footsteps to the water's edge, then 
swam a little, and espying a favourable stretch of dry 
land, took to the bank again, dropping into the 
water when progress on land was difficult. Briefly 
summed up, there is no trail in the Indian's sense of 
the word — and on such questions the red man is the 
greatest authority. The country is too broken and rocky, 
for it appears as if the top of the Eainbow Mountains 
at some time or other had been cut off and pushed 
bodily over, littering the shelf by the waterside with 

To traverse this twelve or fifteen miles the pack-train 
became amphibious. We swung through a muskeg, then 
crawled to the top of a ridge, climbing and falling over 
huge trees which had been levelled by wind and fire, 
and creeping among rocks. Then the path dropped 
suddenly downhill, and came to the water's edge. The 
horse had to take to the water, walking as long as he 
was able. And it was not as if he could follow 
the lake bank. The shore was littered too extensively 
with driftwood, and one had to strike boldly towards 
the middle of the lake to get round such obstructions. 
Progress was painfully slow, the heat of the sun intense, 
and after about four hours' steady pegging along, first 
in water then on land, we seemed as far off as ever 
from the opposite end. 

There is nothing so galling as Canadian distances in 
the Far West. The clearness of the atmosphere renders 
calculation by eye illusory. Even the Indians and the 
few persons you meet can give you no reliable in- 
formation ; they have no means of judging. They simply 
guess by the time it takes them to travel from one 


point to another. And they have precious httle idea 
of time, too. They calculate that their horse can do 
three miles an hour. If that horse covers six or eight 
miles in the sixty minutes they still conclude that he has 
only traversed three miles. Consequently a New British 
Columbian mile is the longest that has ever yet been 
brought into use, completely eclipsing the Scottish, the 
Irish and the Sussex miles. 

Even the horses wearied of this continual dropping 
into and emerging from the water. One pack-horse, 
after about the fifth incursion, started swimming boldly 
down the lake. Others were going to follow his lead, 
when we espied the move. They had our bedding on 
their backs, and we had visions of a dripping couch that 
night. We shouted and yelled, but it was not until a 
packer started to head it off that the animal could be 
dissuaded from its enterprise. 

Four o'clock found us still a considerable distance 
from the lake end. Our pace dropped to about one mile 
an hour, and when we did at last plunge boldly into 
the burnt forest among the scrub , leaving the lake behind , 
no one was sorry. Eight o'clock had passed before we 
descried a wreath of blue smoke curling lazily through 
the trees, and a few minutes later we emerged on a 
little flat, where a prospector in solitary state was just 
finishing his supper, for he too had had a hard day's 
ride, from the opposite direction. It was nine o'clock 
before we settled down to our meal. We had been on 
the trail twelve hours, travelling the whole time to 
cover less than fifteen miles ! 

Mount Robson 

The Rainbow Mountains — A Danger Point — Our Introduction to Mount 
Robson — The Canadian Mecca of Mountaineers — A Story of the Man 
who chrnbed It — Lake Helena — Site of Mackenzie's Hotel — Famine 
Prices — A " Hiker " — Approaching Tete Jaune Cache. 

We were considerably relieved to learn, however, from 
our prospecting fellow-camper that we had covered 
practically the worst of the trail. A good night's sound 
sleep greatly refreshed our party, though during the 
hours of darkness the weather had completely changed, 
and it was a cold, murky, wet morning when we crawled 
out of our blankets. We pulled out early, and within 
half an hour were wrestling grimly with the deadfall. 
The trail wound in and out like S's laid on end, and in 
many places almost complete circles, one hundred yards 
in diameter, were described to go twenty yards as the 
crow flies. 

Then we struck a recently burnt-out stretch where 
the trees had come down, obliterating the trail entirely, 
and presenting a scene of absolute ruin, with the trunks 
piled in all kinds of ways. The leaders picked their 
path carefully, first in this direction then in that, 
hewing and cutting a passage for the animals, doubling 
and redoubling in the most amazing manner. The 
Rainbow range of mountains — so called from the varied 
tints of the mineral rocks, ranging from red through 
greens and yellows to blues — walled us in. The valley 
grew narrower and narrower as the serrated ridges on 
either side of the Fraser inclined towards each ether. 
The river itself became somewhat constricted, and, 


having a rapid fall through this delSile, rushed boister- 
ously along. Now and again a long-drawn-out roar, 
in crescendo and diminuendo in turn, could be heard 
above the music of the river, as. some rock-slide or 
avalanche hurried down the steep precipices into the 
valley. The manner in which the river twisted and 
writhed was bewildering, the turns being exceedingly 
sharp and sudden, and as the valley became more closed 
in, the trail hugged the waterway more tenaciously. 
Swooping round one bend, we could see a "danger point," 
of which our prospecting friend had warned us. The 
slope into the river was almost perpendicular, and the 
train cut across a shelf of shale which overhung in a 
precarious manner. We could plainly see the constant 
slipping action of the brittle mass into the river, which 
picked it up in its embrace and bore it seawards, for 
the "fault" was just at the point of the bend where 
the scouring action of the water was the greatest, eo 
that a constant movement of shale was in progress. As 
the horse trod on the narrow shelf, the mass was set in 
motion, and a false step here would have sent the 
unlucky animal to a certain end, as no foothold could 
have been gained in the crumbling bank below. Similarly 
a jar would have sufficed to set the loose mass above us 
in movement. 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when, as 
we rode over a crest through the dense bush which 
had shut in our view on either side for some time past, 
we emerged into a broad valley. Now mountains of 
the wildest grandeur confronted us on all sides. It had 
been raining hard, heavy clouds still hung low down, 
and the contours of the monarchs shaped in rock stood 
out grim and forbidding. In the distant west there was 
a blaze of light where the clouds had broken, and the 
snow and glaciers were reflecting the summer sunshine 
struggling through the leaden canopy. Behind us reared 
up a solid V7an, completely shutting in the basin, the 


flanks so steep as to be absolutely vertical, with a ruffle 
of thunder-cloud running right across the face, causing 
the wet rock to stand out blacker and more sombre 
than ever. In the centre of the murky mass was a 
straggling, dirty-white blotch, like a snowball thrown 
against a tarred fence. The thunder was rolling in 
long-drawn-out rising and falling cadences and echoes 
thrown from one mountain wall to the other. Such 
was our introduction to the wildest and most majestic 
of Canada's mountains, whose peak towers higher towards 
the sky than any other pinnacle of the Eocky range 
in the Dominion — Mount Eobson. 

In its shadow we pitched our camp, for we were 
bent on an excursion to its western base, since this is 
destined to be the Mecca of mountaineers in Canada, 
and will become an important tourist centre, few other 
districts offering such varied attractions as this. In the 
evening the weather cleared, the genial sunshine burst 
forth, and we spent the time waiting to see the hoary 
giant doff his diaphanous necklace of cloud. But we 
waited in vain, for Mount Robson is somewhat shy. 
He has not been seen by many people yet, and has not 
become accustomed to the glare and stare of admiring 

The next day we also drew a blank. He Kfted his 
ruffle a little higher, as if about to take a peep at us, 
but no sign of the magnificent ice-cap he wears was 
vouchsafed. Still he bared his head a little more, and 
we waited in the hope that by the following day he 
would have realised that we were not to be denied in 
our curiosity. Further disappointment on the third 
day. That mountain was becoming exasperating. But 
while we were enjoying our evening smoke before 
twilight died away, the peak suddenly abandoned his 
fleecy covering, and stood with his profile limned sharply 
and clearly against the evening-tinted sky. It was as 
if the mountain had awaited the opportunity to present 


himself in his best attire before abandoning his reserve, 
for the sun, low down in the heavens, threw its rays 
at a long angle, and the mountain top appeared bathed 
in fire, with the glacier that formed its crest reflecting 
all the colours of the rainbow as the beam of light 
struck its innumerable facets, causing it to show like a 
gigantic prism, while from the uppermost point of snow 
lazily curled a thin wreath of white smoky cloud. 

Undoubtedly Mount Kobson offers the finest spectacle 
m mountain scenery that Canada possesses — it is the 
show-piece of the Dominion. Its western face, bluff 
and square, rises up like the front of a huge building 
scarred and torn by wind and weather, with gable-like 
formations and fantastically carved plinths giving it the 
appearance of an ancient Egyptian tomb. Then the 
northern side runs up sharply at an angle of about 
forty-five degrees, shelving up still more steeply to the 
pinnacle, which is 13,700 feet above sea-level. From 
all points in the valley, and indeed for miles beyond, 
its rugged, grim outline and massive glacier are the 
dominating features of the landscape. 

The mountain has long been known among the few 
frequenting this country. Old traders and trappers, for 
the want of a better name, described it as "The Peak," 
using the definite article to emphasise the fact that it 
was supreme in point of height. The Indians gave it 
a more fantastic appellation, " Yuh-hai-has-kun," because 
to them the eroding forces of Nature, which had washed 
away the softer rock, gave what was left behind 
the semblance of an ascending spiral road. During the 
past few years it has excited the attention of the 
whole world, but, owing to its inaccessibility, only a 
few have had the determination to face the trail leading 
to its base, and such hesitation, as we found from 
experience, has certainly been justified. Two or three 
more adventurous spirits, among them Messrs. L. S. 
Amery and Mumm, have equipped expeditions for the 


purpose of scaling its precipitous heights, but so far have 
been baffled. Only one man, the Kev. B, M. Kinney, 
claims to have reached the summit. 

In this connection one of the Grand Trunk Pacific 
railway engineers, who was out on survey, related an 
amusing anecdote, which I retell for what it is worth, 
and without any guarantee as to its truth. 

"I was busy at work one night in camp, unravelling 
the fruits of my day's labour in the field, when I became 
conscious of somebody at the entrance. I looked up 
and saw a stranger considerably the worse for wear, 
his clothes being knocked about pretty considerably. 

'"I hope you will pardon my intrusion, but could 
you manage to put me up for the night? ' 

"I looked at him pretty squarely to size him up. 
He was not a prospector, and certainly was not a hobo, 
as this genus was not found so far in the wilds. 

"'Well, I don't know. Who are you, anyway?' 

"'My name's Kinney — the Eeverend Kinney.' 

"I was a bit puzzled. This was a most outlandish 
place to meet a clergyman. 

" ' Well, I don't want to be hard on a fellow-creature. 
Where have you come from?' 

"'From the top of Mount Robson.' 

"I wondered for a moment whether a lunatic had 
struck my camp. He had the joke on me, you see. 
However, I thought I would humour him. 

"'Well, come in and make yourself comfortable. 
I hope you will excuse the boys, for they are rough 
diamonds out here in the bush, and something like Bob 

"He entered and made himself at home. The other 
boys, hearing of the coming of the stranger, but some- 
what awestruck by the ' frock,' trooped sheepishly along, 
and were soon in conversation. He gave us an exciting 
story, and certainly entertained us in a way that was 
a welcome relaxation from our duties. We listened 


Showing one of its many glaciers. 


intently, the auditors punctuating his recital now and 
again with some monosyllabic vernacular. Still, he 
proved a regular decent sort. He took the boys as he 
found them, and neither felt nor showed any resent- 
ment at their picturesque language. We put him up, 
and were mighty sorry when he went on the next day. 
Personally that was the toughest experience of my life, 
for I was on tenterhooks the whole time that one of the 
boys would let fly something which would have shocked 
the visitor." 

We had an amusing experience ourselves when a 
visit was made to the foot of the mountain. There was 
no trail, and a path had to be cut and hewn foot by 
foot. The horses had to be left behind. First there 
was a struggle across muskeg, followed by worming 
through a cedar forest, where many of the trees had 
been uprooted, their six-foot trunks standing right in 
the way and necessitating clambering over as best one 
could ; then came a crawl over treacherous, disintegrated 
rock brought down by a landslip. In due course, after 
some eight hours' work, the edge of a beautiful stretch 
of water, first discovered by Mr. Kinney, who named it 
Lake Helena, was reached. We hastily fashioned a raft, 
by roping three or four logs together, and a cruise was 
undertaken over the lake, a pole being used for pro- 
pulsion. While moving slowly along, what looked un- 
commonly like a signboard was espied on the bank. 
Pulling rapidly towards it to ascertain what it was, we 
saw, in scrawling print — 


The irrepressible Scot again ! That canny son from 
the land o' cakes had evidently heard about the 
beauties of Mount Eobson, ascertained that the railway 
was to skirt its base, and made his way up here to 
take a look round. He was quick to grasp the situation ; 
foresaw that visitors would desire to approach as closely 


as possible to the base of the mountain to investigate 
its massive proportions and glaciers from close range; 
and human nature told him that, after a toil of eight 
miles to reach the spot, at least a glass of milk and a 
Bath bun would be in demand ! Hence the hotel. And, 
what was more, the shrewd pioneer had carefully staked 
out his ground. 

August Bank Holiday was spent in gazing upon the 
splendours of this mountain from all points of view. 
But our several delays had made heavy inroads upon 
our provisions ; we were running woefully short. We 
had calculated upon sufficient to carry us to Tete Jaune 
Cache, where the canoes to take us to Fort George were 
to bring further supplies ; but they were not due till 
August 6th, and might be late, as time-tables in canoeing 
up the Fraser are poor reeds upon which to depend. 
However, we were able to secure ample supplies of 
Dolly Varden and rainbow trout from the Fraser merely 
for the fishing, and hooked some beauties which would 
have made an English angler stare, scaling as they did 
in the neighbourhood of two pounds or more. The 
abundance of fish and the certainty of excellent sport 
will serve to render this beauty-spot of more than sight- 
seeing interest when it has become easily accessible by 
the railway. Huckleberries, a stoneless fruit about the 
size of a black-heart cherry, luscious, sweet and palatable, 
provided us with delectable dainties in abundance. But 
our food supplies diminished with startling rapidity, 
and the immediate future was regarded with a certain 

Then luck came our way. A small party of 
prospectors from Tete Jaune Cache were returning 
Edmonton wards, and were willing to dispose of their 
surplus provisions. They were limited, but we took 
all we could get. But at what a price ! Thirty pounds 
of flour cost us 33s. — Is. IJd. per pound ; tea 4s. per 
pound, and butter 4s. per pound. The flour was the 













^h -m 



most importaut, and we were glad to get it even at that 
famine figure. 

Tete Jaune Cache was but a hard day's ride distant, 
and we pushed forward rapidly, fording the Grand Fork 
just above its junction with the Fraser, then crossing 
Swift Current, a most erratic stream fed by melting 
snow. Eventually we camped for the night about four 
miles this side of the Cache on a little grass-covered 
flat which offered good pasturage for the horses. While 
we were seated round the fire two strangers pulled in, 
eastward bound. One was astride, the other was march- 
ing along with his rifle slung over his shoulder. They 
shared our meal in true frontier fashion. We inquired 
of the "hiker" what he was doing afoot. 

"Oh, a fellow offered me ten pounds for my plug, 
so I let him go. I'd sooner have the money than the 
horse, anyway." 

"How far are you walking?" 

"Wolf Creek ! I'll do it in about ten days all right." 

This hardy old prospector had not even a blanket in 
which to wrap himself at night, and he did not seem 
to worry about provisions. 

"I'll rub along all right till I strike a railway camp," 
he replied to our offers to fit him out a bit. "Besides, 
I've got a pard here, and I guess he won't let me 

With that they went off in the darkness. 

As we approached Tete Jaune Cache the Fraser bent 
round to meet us, giving us a broadside view of a 
magnificent waterfall, where the whole width of the 
river tumbles over a ledge, about 30 feet in height, to 
flow through a rock-girt channel. We struck a fine 
stretch of trail through the forest that had evidently 
been trodden down by a few thousand feet, judging 
from its hard, firm character, and along this we moved 
more speedily. But that trail was too good to last. It 
debouched from the wood, swung round a little shack 


in ruins, and disappeared into the river. We had 
reached the end of the overland trail through the 
Yellowhead, over which Jasper Hawes's yellow-shocked 
Iroquois went his way, and here took to the canoes. 
The dismantled ruin was the little store where the 
Indian kept his provisions and concealed furs until 
sufficient had accumulated to warrant a journey east 
or west — in fact, it was his half-way house, and con- 
sequently became known as Tete Jaune Cache, from 
which the locality takes its name. 















Where Trail and River Meet 

The Hermit of Tete Jaune Cache— His Camp — Mount Thompson — A Great 
Watershed — Mineral Wealth — Mica Mountain — " Starvation Flat " 
— Our Diminishtag Commissariat — Ernest Keller's Adventures — His 
Hopes — His " Neighbours " — Our Canoes Arrive. 

Swinging round the remaining crumbled fabric of the 

cache of the hunting and trading yellow-headed Iroquois, 

we moved away from the river, striking a newer trail that 

led along its banks. The range on our right fell back 

into a jumble of pinnacles, dropping towards the river 

in broad slopes, stepped so as to present wide terraces 

or benches paved with a rich, deep top-soil, and having a 

southern aspect ; on these terraces vegetables and other 

agricultural produce can, and will, be raised in abundance. 

We reached a little clearing in the bush which poles 

and pegs denoted to be a camping-ground, and which 

has been so used by the trappers and frontiersmen for 

many a year. Here, reclining under a tree, was a 

brawny, husky type of manhood in his prime, reading 

a newspaper. We hailed him, and found that he 

was awaiting our arrival. He is the hermit of Tete 

Jaune Cache, otherwise Ernest Keller, as rough, as 

genial, and as dare-devil a backwoodsman as you could 

find north of the tropics. But his greeting scarcely 

cheered us. He had come up the Eraser Kiver, and 

bore the unwelcome intelligence that our boats would 

be a week late at the least. To say that our spirits 

fell is to describe the situation very mildly, for our 

thoughts irresistibly stole to our commissariat and its 

rapidly disappearing bulk. 



But one could not fall into the "blues " with Keller 
about. He has been "up against it" so many times; 
he knows so well what it is to catch his breakfast 
before eating it that he made light of our situation. 

"Gee! you won't starve hereabouts. I can keep the 
wolf from the door for a bit, though I have not an 
extensive range of luxuries. My larder is severely 
restricted to the urgent wants of life. Besides, there's 
plenty of fish in the Fraser ! Why, we'll be getting 
salmon steaks up here before long ; there's plenty of 
blueberries, and there's some game knocking about. I 
reckon you're in clover." 

We took his word for it, and said no more. 

Keller's camp was about a mile distant, and we' 
followed on his heels. He led us into a broad valley 
to give us a view that was worth going on short 
rations to see. Following the river bank we wound 
over hillocks of rich loam, finally climbing up a high, 
steep knoll or cut-bank, the Fraser's handiwork. From 
its crest, looking southwards, a wide depression lay 
before us. Right straight ahead, about twenty miles 
distant, rose a massive hump to a height of some 7,000 
feet, bathed in an ethereal blue haze, which gave it a 
spectre-like aspect. This was Mount Thompson. 
Its summit was sparsely sprinkled with snow, and 
Keller assured us that on the top was some of the finest 
pasturage to be found for miles around. 

On the east of this old head was a broad valley 
which, from our coign of vantage, looked like a long 
passage, so straight was the serried mountain wall on 
either side, stretching for mile after mile, until the 
two straight lines, in obedience to the laws of per- 
spective, seemed to meet on our horizon. This broad 
valley extends right down to the Columbia River, & 
matter of some 150 miles or so distant. The range 
which had been hugging us on the south side of the 
Fraser broke off abruptly, joining the spur which came 


up from the south ; the dale between was the dividing 
line between the Eockies and the Selkirks. In the 
bottom of the valley thus fonned runs the Canoe River, 
which feeds the mighty "Columbee," and the descent is 
so gentle that the "height of land " is only some 21 feet 
above the level of the Fraser at Tete Jaune Cache, and 
was plainly visible from our elevation. On the opposite 
side Mount Thompson rounds off into a mingle of snow- 
capped peaks and glaciers, through which we could just 
descry a gloomy, cavernous passage, the Albreda Pass — 
the only place where the range can be penetrated from 
this valley — this range continuing sharply round towards 
the Fraser, which it joins again just below Tete Jaune 

The valley, of which we secured a bird's-eye view, 
was remarkable. It was almost level, and was cut up 
in all directions by waterways and creeks. Most con- 
spicuous in the foreground was the Fraser, with its 
extraordinary twists and turns ; then behind we could 
see the McGlennan, which empties into the Fraser. 
We could see also the area in which the Canoe Eiver 
takes its rise, and the country forming the headwaters 
of the famous North Thompson, while the creeks and 
streams feeding the different main rivers were too 
numerous to mention. We were, in fact, scanning one 
of the most remarkable watersheds in British Columbia, 
a dent in the mountain range on which the enterprising 
have already made their footprints. 

This valley is certain of a great future. It will be 
one of the busiest and most important railway centres 
in the interior of the province. Survey has settled 
the location of two or three railways, the most important 
of which is the Grand Trunk Pacific, and rumour has 
elaborated the routes for half a dozen other lines coming 
up from the south. Private enterprise has projected the 
acquisition of eight square miles for town sites. 

Certainly there is plenty of scope for development 


in a score of ways. The mountains teem with minerals 
of all descriptions, Keller showing us specimens of 
galena, gold, silver and other valuable metals, claims 
for which he had staked out. Mica Mountain is a great 
storehouse of mica, and some of the mineral obtained 
from it is quite noteworthy. It is white, and of 
good cleavage, and sheets from 32 inches square upwards 
can be readily obtained. If such veins are extensive, 
the mica mining prospect here is brilliant indeed. About 
twenty claims have already been staked, and the large 
block of this mineral which carried off a distinguished 
award at the last Paris Exhibition was mined on this 
mountain. When the neighbourhood becomes more acces- 
sible, prospectors will pour into the country, and carry out 
their task upon a broad, scientific basis, whereas up to the 
present only the surface here and there has been 
scratched. The wealth in the mountains hereabouts 
is beyond human conception, and, after the experience 
of Cobalt, he would be a rash man indeed, no matter 
what his geological and other qualifications might be, 
whb would dare to say what could not be found. 

Apart from the mining industry, the valley will 
attract large numbers of agriculturists, for the soil is 
rich and light. Market gardening will here find great 
opportunities when the towns are born. The work will 
be hard, but the returns will be sure, as the teeming 
communities must be fed, and the cost of transport must 
result in the immediately contiguous sources of supply 
being patronised. There is only one bleak spot. That 
is "Starvation Flat," which sinister sobriquet is well 
deserved, for it is terribly exposed to the east and 
north. Yet possibly it will be rescued from obloquy 
after all the surrounding arable area has been taken up. 
Or it may blossom into a hustling town ! 

We pitched camp under some tall pines, on the 
bank of the Fraser, now grown to a formidable water- 
way some 400 feet in width, and svsdnging merrily 


along at from six to eight miles an hour. We passed 
the time as best we could in exploring the neighbourhood, 
examining Keller's efforts to grow vegetables — which, by 
the way, did not call for much skill or attention, owing 
to the congeniality of the soil and climate — and sampling 
with great relish the lettuces, onions, potatoes, cabbages 
and so forth. The Fraser yielded some excellent sport 
and magnificent prizes, though as we were in urgent 
need of fresh meat for our table, we did not follow the 
true sporting instinct, but, pushed somewhat by emer- 
gencies, yanked them out as best we could with a bait 
of bacon or fresh squirrel and chip-munk, the latter 
brought down with a Browning automatic pistol. Other 
time we passed in making the camp comfortable, dis- 
playing our cabinet-making proclivities by fashioning 
and erecting seats, tables, etc., with our solitary tool — 
the axe. 

But our commissariat was of vital concern. Some 
of the most urgent necessaries had shrunk to very 
slender proportions indeed. What might be termed the 
essential articles of the bush, such as flour, bacon, sugar 
and tea, had well-nigh disappeared. We sought Keller, 
and he sold us what he could spare. But we had to 
pay dearly for our succour, though, bearing in mind our 
predicament and situation, we were lucky to get off as 
cheaply as we did. 

Keller was a host in himself. At evening, sitting 
round a log camp-fire, which threw ghostly shadows 
among the trees, he regaled us with stories and adven- 
tures innumerable which had befallen him through a 
wildly adventurous life — some grave, others gay, but one 
and all first-rate time-killers. Like so many others 
buried in the wilderness, he hailed from the United 
States, having been raised somewhere down on the 
Pacific coast. The quest for gold enthused him' early 
in life, and he had searched patiently for the yellow 
metal from sunny California to ice-bound Alaska. He 


was in far-off Nome when he first heard about the 
upper reaches of the Fraser River, 

"I had knocked about Alaska and Prince of Wales 
Island without striking much luck, so when I once 
more found myself in Vancouver I started off for Fort 
George. I heard that there was some good mineral 
country up round Tete Jaune Cache. I got hold of a 
canoe, came up, and cruised around to see how the 
land lay. That was five years ago, and I am still here. 
Yes, I am in solitary state. Another frontier lad, 
Wilson, and a pard, have a piece of land about fifty 
miles down the Fraser, and give me a call now and 
again. They're on the opposite side of the river at the 
moment. How do I like the life? Why, it's the only 
life to lead, if one doesn't mind being lonely. Some- 
times I am here for three months and don't see a soul, 
not even an Indian. If it hits me a bit too hard I go 
off on a hunting trip after cariboo, goat, sheep, or 
what not, I have been all over these mountains. Or 
else I go prospecting and exploring. Illness? You can 
never fall ill in this open, free air." 

It certainly looked like it, Keller had a magnificent 
physique, was as hard as iron, and the picture of health. 
He did not know what a malady was ; even a cold was 
foreign to him, though he walked about merely in a 
thin under- vest and a pair of nether garments, with 
sockless feet shod in a heavy pair of boots. His 
wardrobe was certainly no cause for anxiety. Twenty- 
five shillings would have given him a complete rig-out 
from top to toe with all he wanted, and the season of 
the year made little difference. 

"I am often away from here for weeks at a time, 
I just take my blanket, some small supplies, and my 
rifle, and off I go. Time has no worry for me. I don't 
know what is the day of the week, the date of the 
month, or the time, as I have neither watch nor 
calendar, and I certainly do not bother my head over 


either. I just work when I feel like it, and rest when 
I feel so disposed." 

In such circumstances it seems difficult to under- 
stand how these frontier men exist. But a little prying 
suffices to show. They trade with the Indians, and 
the furs thus obtained find a ready, lucrative sale at 
Fort George, and with the proceeds fresh supplies of 
provisions, sufficient for months, are obtained. But 
Keller has faint dreams, or castles in the clouds, of 
becoming a Croesus — some day. He hopes to dispose 
of his mineral finds when the railway comes along and 
permits machinery to be brought in. Then his holdings 
will no doubt be taken over, and he will hie to pastures 

"I might settle down at Tete Jaune Cache, though," 
he remarked. "I have got to like the country here- 

He was squatting on a few hundred acres of 
first-class agricultural land. This will be worth some 
hundreds of pounds and will be readily saleable when 
the territory develops after the coming of the iron horse. 
He had furthermore built himself a canoe, in which he 
cruised about the various waterways in the neigh- 
bourhood, and made periodical visits to Fort George. 
However one might be inclined to sympathise with 
Keller, he would not change his devil-may-care lot 
with any city dweller. His adventures are without 
end. He has been robbed by desperadoes ; been 
upset in treacherous rivers ; had tight squeezes in 
pursuit of big game — and he merely laughs heartily 
over it all. 

One night we heard a hail, and Wilson and his 
"pard" strode into the camp. Wilson was just as rough 
a diamond as Kellar ; of the same free and don't-care-a- 
damn spirit. He had got hold of some tobacco, and 
that came as a pleasant relief, as he had been making 
shift with ki-ni-ki-nick for some weeks past. This is 


a smoking mixture made from the dried-up bark of 
willow and roots, and as a substitute for the genuine 
weed is passable. His clothes were so patched that 
the original material was scarcely visible, though, like 
Keller, he made a pair of trousers and vest suffice for 
his needs, while his toes thrust themselves through his 
boots. He wanted a match or two, and these being 
furnished, he endeavoured to strike one on his nether 

"Guess I'll have to be careful," he remarked at the 
fourth attempt. "I must find a piece of my trousers 
where there ain't a patch, or I'll break the head off." 
But he gave it up and lit his pipe with a glowing 
ember. Matches are a luxury in the wilderness, rank- 
ing next to tobacco. 

On Sunday morning, about noon, a yell came sound- 
ing across the river, "Got any mail to go down? " Two 
prospectors in a small Peterborough were returning to 
Fort George, and were willing, in true frontier fashion, 
to take any letters we might have. Inquiring as to the 
time they were starting, and securing an hour's respite, 
soon we were all busily engaged in letter-writing at top 
speed. At one o'clock they drew in. No one possessed 
any stamps, but the newcomers were not perturbed. 
"Give us the letters and don't worry. We'll see them 
mailed all right." Such is one of the little courtesies 
of the bush, and those letters were as safe in these 
couriers' hands, although they had to bear the expense 
of franking, as if they were paid to carry His Majesty's 
Mails. We felt a bit depressed as we saw them 
go swinging down stream singing lustily ; but they 
had promised if they passed our canoes to give the 
men in charge a "wakkener oop," as the passengers 
were waiting at Tete Jaune Cache in a starving 
condition ! 

In the twilight a week later we heard a loud Indian 
wail echoing up the river. It was a peculiar call — a 


typical high-pitched cry which the Indian uses when 
hallo-ing. Some minutes later a gaunt figure broke 
through the bush and inquired for the party going 
down to Fort George. It was George Williams, who was 
to take us there. We turned in early that night so as to 
be in tip-top fettle for the first hard, long day on the 
roaring waterway. 

Down the Upper Fraser in a Dug-out 

Indian Dug-outs — A Timber -jam — Our Indian Crew — George Williams and 
His Record— Farming in the Wilds— The Good Time Coming for 
Pioneers — Pitching Camp at Little Smoky River — Lashing the Canoes 
together — The Rau Shuswap River — A Cry of " Bar ! " — The Indian 
Notion of Sport — Pursued by Bald-headed Eagles — Strenuous Work 
— Camping at Night — Mosquitoes — Shooting the Goat Rapids. 

Shortly after daylight the next morning Joe the cook 
was astir preparing our matutinal meal of "mush" — no 
Canadian would ever start on a day's work without his 
feast of porridge — pork and beans. We were doomed 
to short rations, or rather limited fare, until we 
reached Fort George, for our canoes had come up 
without provisions, owing to a misunderstanding; but 
on reflection we concluded that we could just about 
scramble through another week with what we had. 

The canoes were typical Indian dug-outs ; merely the 
hollowed three-quarter section carcases of cottonwood 
tree-trunks, about thirty feet long, with pointed ends. 
They are crazy-looking craft in all conscience, and about 
the most uncomfortable vessels that man ever designed, 
though comfort to the Indian mind is the last and least 
consideration. In the hands of the red men they are 
wonderfully handy. The European, however, on first 
acquaintance regards them somewhat with dismay, since 
they roll like a log, and the slightest shifting of the 
balance is sufficient to bring about a capsize. They 
have no gunwale, and as the Indian knows nothing 
about PlimsoU marks he simply emulates the American 
tram conductor's example and keeps loading them up 
until only about two inches of hull are above the water. 


Consequently, if you should move and tilt the boat, for 
it is keel-less and rolls at the slightest motion, a swamp- 
ing is very probable. 

When we embarked, the freeboard was about an 
inch and a half, as the boats were hard pushed to take 
on half a ton of impedimenta and ten passengers between 
them. We had to sit as best we could amid the baggage, 
which had been stowed to give the best trim, with our 
legs doubled up and cramped. A week afloat like this 
was not a very rosy outlook. 

At ten o'clock there was a guttural exclamation from 
the Indians, followed by a smart push, and we were 
adrift the roaring Fraser. A few deft strokes drove 
the dug-out from the lee of the bank into mid-stream, 
where we were caught up like straws by the fierce 
current, swung round prow forwards, and hurried along 
at about six or eight miles an hour. The getting under 
way was accomplished so quickly and dexterously that 
we had not shaken down to our confined quarters, causing 
the boat to roll ominously. Lett, who can manage a 
dug-out as well as any Indian, tried to steady the 
violent rocking, and, looking forward, spotted me 

"Got a cigarette on? " 

"Yes." I had lighted on an unknown packet of 
"coffin-nails," and was enjoying a puff. 

"Then for heaven's sake don't shift it to the other 
side of your mouth, or else you'll have us over!" 

Keller sped us on our way, and the last we saw of 
this husky, hospitable son of the wilderness was a 
brawny arm waving through the bushes as we shot 
round a bend. 

It took us some little tim'e and effort to get as 
comfortable as the cramped accommodation would per- 
mit, and every movement gave the dug-out a wicked 
lurch. We had looked forward to a leisurely, easy ride 
down the river, and here we were huddled worse than 


cattle in a railway truck ! There was not a single one 
who would not rather have been wrestling with the 
rock- and tree-strewn trail than courting disaster in 
such a craft as this. 

The mountains on either side once more swung 
sharply towards the river, hemming us in on either side, 
the lowland being covered with scrub as dense as a 
jungle, while the trees stretched in an unbroken mass 
to the timber Hne about 6,000 feet above us. We had 
been clipping along pretty smartly for about an hour 
when we heard an awful roaring and snarling ahead. 
Eight in front was a huge timber jam, where the 
hundreds of trees torn up by the Fraser in flood, caught 
in its awful embrace, and hurried down stream, had 
been piled up in an inextricable mass about fifty feet 
in height. It stretched halfway across the river, and 
the flotsam and jetsam formed a dam that constricted the 
waterway considerably, and converted the narrow channel 
into a millrace. We had to steer between two of these 
vicious-looking obstructions, and the water curled round 
the ends with a greedy sucking. The tendency of the 
current is to draw the canoe towards the eddy, where, 
caught by the undertow, it is pulled right down. 

The Indians were on the alert. They felt the dug-out 
strike the undertow, and with their wonderful alacrity 
they bent to the stiff paddles and literally pulled the 
boat away from the current. The force put into the 
strokes was enough to break the paddles, and if one 
had given way as we shot rolling and rocking through 
that narrow rapid, the timber-jam would have received 
another little contribution, and the Fraser a few more 

The Fort George Siwash Indians — and we had four 
aboard, Denis, William, Louis and A-mo — are fine 
waterdogs, expert with the canoe, and can send the 
boat spinning along at a merry speed — when they feel 
inclined. With a current beneath them running eight 


miJes an hour, they see no need to row ; they just give 
a spurt now and again to get steering way, and that 
is practically all. Denis, a young fellow of about 
twenty, was a powerful oarsman, and when he bent 
to the task he put such force into his strokes as to 
lift the fore-end of the boat right out of the water. 
But he was very rarely moved to such exertion, except 
when we were in a bad place. His usual practice was 
to row ten strokes, and then doze for as many minutes. 
He was the most slothful member of the crew, though 
the most powerful oarsman. True, they had been hard 
put to it coming up the river, for George Williams 
had driven them like a torpedo destroyer on her speed 
trials, and ascending the Upper Fraser is enough to 
take it out of any man, since the canoe has to be 
poled-up, like a punt, for nearly 300 miles, it being 
impossible to paddle a heavy dug-out against such a 
swift current. 

The average time occupied in the up journey from 
Fort George to Tete Jaune Cache is eighteen to 
twenty-one days, Williams in coming to meet us had 
established a record, for he had covered the distance in 
sixteen days, making the Siwashes under him do over 
thirty miles in the last day, and keeping them at it 
consistently during the trip from 5.30 in the morning 
till 6.30 at night. They knew this, and were bent on 
revenge on the downward run. For this work they are 
paid 15s. a day all found. On the up journey they 
earn it; but going downstream, unless pushed, they 
have a holiday. Williams holds the record for doing 
this stretch of the Fraser both up and down, and is 
about the biggest hustler we met in New British 
Columbia. He was at Aldermere, 260 miles north of 
Fort George, when he received the summons to come 
and fetch our party from Tete Jaune Cache. With two 
horses, and travelling as lightly as possible, he covered 
the 260 miles of trail in five days — rapid travelling that 


— and, without a pause at Fort George, jumped into the 
canoes and set off up-stream. A few months before 
our arrival, the divisional engineer of the Grand Trunk 
Pacific had to be taken down the river over the same 
route, and was pushed for time, Williams was urged 
to let himself go. He did ; and drove the Indians with 
him like mad, covering the 315 miles in four days, 
resting only about four hours at night. On the last lap 
they pitched camp at midnight, and started off again 
an hour and a half later. His feat was noised far and 
wide through the country, as well as the fact that on 
reaching Fort George he tumbled into bed at the 
Hudson's Bay Post and slept for thirty-six hours on 

At noon the Indians pulled into the bank, and the 
midday meal was hurried forward. The red men have 
no trades union, but are just as strict in their methods 
and as regular in their hours. Unless cajoled they will 
not work after six in the evening, and meals must be 
taken punctually, come what may. If you do not like 
it you must do the other thing — go off by yourself. 
They are quite ready to face a 200-mile tramp through 
the bush, or capable of fashioning a raft which would 
carry them down stream, and they can subsist where 
a white man would starve, and thread their way 
through dense virgin bush where a white man would 
get lost. 

About thirty miles below Tete Jaune Cache, Louis 
gave vent to an hallo. The Indian hail is pitched in 
a high tone so as to travel well and far, and resembles 
a long-drawn-out " Wah-oo-wah-ooo-wah." Certainly 
the peculiar cry can be heard at a great distance. In 
a second or two came back a faint answer like an echo. 
We drew towards the bank, there was a rustling in the 
bush, and presently a head was thrust through the 
bushes : 

"Any mail?" 


"No thanks. Everything all right. You're pretty 
low down " — referring to the depth of the dug-outs in 
the water. 

"Oh, we're all right. The canoes are riding steady," 
returned Williams. "So long!" Another push and we 
were in mid-stream. 

What this man could be doing so far from civilisation 
and in such an out-of-the-way spot as this, it seemed 
doubtful if even Heaven knew. He was farming ! Least- 
ways, he had cleared a patch in the forest, discovered 
some first-class soil, and was getting ready for his first 
crop. However, he was but one of three hardy old 
backwoodsmen who had launched out in this country. 
Wilson, who visited us at the Tete Jaune Cache, had 
wild hay topping five feet not far distant. Two others 
farther down the river were dwelling likewise in solitary 
state, with visitors few and far between, the river the 
only highway between the various points of civilisation, 
as there is no trail through these tangled primeval 
forests, and the dug-out is the sole means of travel. 

And clearing is an appalling task, demanding cease- 
less effort and a pluck that cannot be fathomed. We 
made more than one effort to penetrate the bush, but 
were always driven back by the tangled vegetation, the 
branches of which intertwine, forming a stockade which 
can be broken down only by the axe. The trees grow- 
to lofty heights, and as thickly as weeds. Once or 
twice, for our midday repast, we had to cleave a narrow 
pathway to the top of the river bank and make a small 
clearing sufficient to light our fire. But the forest is 
like a gigantic cavern. No daylight ever reaches the 
soil, which is as cold as ice, spongy from the accumu- 
lated vegetation of centuries, which has become heavily 
logged with water. The whole of the valley may almost 
be described as muskeg — such is the most fitting descrip- 
tion. The timber for the most part is suited to pulping, 
and the larger trees for lumber. Some of these giants 


are of tremendous size, and the lumberjack when he 
enters will be amidst a wealth of wood. 

Owing to the valley being sheltered on all sides, 
there is no doubt but that the next ten years, will 
witness a tremendous expansion, and that what is now 
primeval forest will be cleared and converted into an 
immense garden. The lumberjack will come first — the 
timber cruiser spying out new resources for lumber is 
already active — then, as the land is cleared, the farmer 
will come in and turn the rich, dark topsoil to valuable 
account in the raising of produce. The land shelves 
very gently to the foot of the range on either side, and, 
generally speaking, the lower mountain-slopes are not 
steep, and should be available for cultivation to a very 
appreciable extent. The land will have to be drained, 
but that will not be a task presenting much difficulty, 
inasmuch as the plateau for the most part is a few feet 
above the level of the Fraser, and directly cultivation 
is practised on an extensive scale the river will shrink 
still lower, in common with those on the prairie, owing 
to the roots sucking up a large proportion of the moisture 
which at present simply helps to swell the Fraser. 

The land at the moment is absolutely valueless 
except to the lumberjack. His axes and sawmills are 
required to level the forest growth. Fire will soon clear 
the dense scrub, and as the roots of the trees do 
not run downwards, but spread out along the surface, 
the removal of stumps is a comparatively easy matter. 
Farming is impossible at the moment, even should the 
forests be cleared, since there are no facilities for bring- 
ing in the machinery, but directly the railway comes 
through, the valley will spring into bustle and activity. 

These pioneers realise that they have to wait. So 
long as they can just struggle along — and their wants 
are few — they are satisfied. This land, which to-day 
can be purchased for a dollar an acre, in five years' 
time will be commanding anything from £S per acre 


upwards. These intrepid adventurers in the wilderness 
fully realise that fact, and though comparatively poor 
to-day in point of cash, their real estate holdings, 
whether only a few hundred acres or a couple of square 
miles, render them comparatively wealthy ; at any rate 
they will be able to command a position of comfort- 
able independence in the near future. These are the 
men the country wants — men who acquire land and 
develop it ; not mere land-grabbers who stake and claim 
everything, and then put it up for sale or stack it on 
the shelves until they can get the exorbitant price 
they demand. 

The brightness of this morrow is already dawning. 
The engineers had completed their work of plotting the 
pathway for the iron road, and their bench-marks were 
plainly visible at regular intervals. The axemen are 
rapidly approaching Tete Jaune Cache, and will soon 
cross the river, cutting and burning the vegetation over 
a swathe 100 feet wide, as they go up hill and down 
dale. Directly these outposts appear the country will 
awaken from its long sleep. In their wake will come 
the construction camps and the end-of -steel town, 
with pioneers pushing ahead and to each side in all 
directions. Then, the moment the first forward move- 
ment of the huge army of navvies takes place — this 
will be any day now — with the steam shovel, grading 
machines, troops of horses and other impedimenta of the 
engineer's heavy artillery, the investment of the Fraser 
valley will commence in grim earnest. Those in quest 
of land overrun the country on all sides, settle, and 
lose no time setting to work, for immediately behind 
the railway army comes the town-builder planting down 
his streets here, there and everywhere, bringing with 
him an enterprising community with all sorts and con- 
ditions of ambassadors of trade and industry. The silent 
Fraser forests, which to-day are undisturbed save by 
the screech of an eagle or the twitter of a little 


colony of small red-breasted birds, will give way to the 
hundred-and-one handmaids of civilisation ; the silence 
will be broken by the throb of the locomotive piston- 
rod, the whir of the circular saw, the nerve-racking 
clang-clang of the electric tramcar, and the whizzing 
bur-r-r of the telephone bell, for it must be remembered 
that as much history and development are compressed 
within a decade of Canada as in a century of the old 
world. Copious clouds of smoke and fumes will streak 
towards the sky, as the inexhaustible mineral wealth 
of the mountains is torn out and smelted for all the 
varied demands of the world. The ranges have only 
been scoured perfunctorily by the prospector as yet, but 
those who have had the hardihood to penetrate this 
silent world have been rewarded sufficiently for their 
endeavours to sit down a while and harbour their secrets 
until transportation provides the way and renders the 
moment opportune for launching their discoveries upon 
the market. 

The Fraser Eiver Valley possesses every sign of be- 
coming a little empire in itself, throbbing with the life 
of an industrious hustling community — such men as have 
built up the cities on the prairie, and are to-day open- 
ing up New Ontario. At the Little Smoky Eiver we 
pitched camp. We espied the fire warden coming down 
in his crazy dug-out, assisted by his wife and child. 
They are nomads in the strictest sense of the word, 
carrying their home in the bottom of the hollowed-out 
tree trunk, pitching their pillow here to-night and there 
to-morrow. They have no permanent address, and if 
you wish to find this official — well, you must be prepared 
for a hunt compared to which the search for a needle 
in the proverbial bundle of hay is the merest child's 

"Anything doing out here?" he repeated, as he sat 
with us round the camp fire. "Why, I should smile. 
This valley is in for a big hum, and no mistake. I've 


already been over 600 timber limits — licenses for ex- 
ploiting the timber wealth — this year, and have enough 
to keep me going for several weeks yet." 

One hundred miles out of Fort George we came 
across a survey encampment. They were hard at work, 
toiling from dawn to twilight plotting out the ground to 
meet the impending agricultural assault. 

"Invasion of settlers!" one of the camp remarked. 
"Gee! It'll be no mere invasion when the run up here 
sets in. It'll be a wholesale investment!" Such, as 
it appears to those engaged in preliminary operations, 
is the future of the Fraser valley and the wide open 
dales which run laterally into it, bearing a host of 
tributaries to the famous waterway. 

After our first day out the Indians decided upon a 
new plan of campaign. So far the canoes had been 
travelling singly, but the dangers due to rolling and low 
freeboard had come home to them. Steadier travelling, 
greater safety, and enhanced comfort could be secured 
by coupling the two together. This was done, the two 
boats being placed side by side, spaced two feet apart, 
and rigidly coupled together by cross poles firmly lashed 
to the hulls to form a kind of raft. Our craft was more 
cumbersome, slower in travel, but the conjunction a la 
catamaran gave us more space and freedom, with com- 
plete immunity from the prospect of a sudden immersion 
in the scurrying waters. 

As we neared the mouth of the Eau Shuswap River, 
which flows through a tangled, mountainous mass rich 
in mica, gold and other metals, we pulled ashore to 
retrim the boat so as to ease the oarsmanship. We had 
plumped into the bank, and were looking up the rushing 
tributary upon which the sunhght was dancing bril- 
liantly, when the Indians; cried "Bar," and Dennis, 
excitedly grabbing his Remington 22, let drive two shots. 
At first glance we could see no sign of any animal, but 
in a few seconds snatched a glimpse of a small black 


speck in the middle of the Shuswap barely an inch 
square, looking like the end of a branch fluttering on the 
water. It was making steadily for the opposite bank, 
and then it came home to us that this was Bruin's nose, 
just projecting above the water as he was swimming 
from bank to bank. Three other rifles cracked out 
loudly, and the water within two inches of the dark 
speck flew up in spray. At that range, with the sun in 
our eyes, Bruin's rapidly moving nose was a difficult 
target, yet that animal must have felt relieved when he 
gained the opposite side and was lost to sight in the 
dense undergrowth, for the rain of lead that screamed 
around his nasal organ during his swim must have been 

We were now in the midst of the game country, 
for the Upper Fraser Valley swarms with the black 
bear. We were recompensed soon for our initial dis- 
appointment. That afternoon we were swinging round 
a big bend through a low-lying plateau, where the river 
was about 200 yards wide. We had eased up a bit 
when Williams, looking round, suddenly started up to 
grab his rifle. Dennis did likewise. There was some- 
thing doing. 

"Kot a sound," growled Williams, looking towards 
the opposite bank, where we could just see outlined 
against a blackened tree trunk the form of a black bear 
standing on his hind legs, with one front paw enclosing 
a bush, while the other was busily forcing lusciousi 
berries into his capacious mouth. 

Dennis let fly first with his "22" and missed, the 
bear simply turning his head and dropping on his feet 
at the report. Immediately two other rifles cracked out 
in concert at the range of about a hundred yards, and 
the bear crashed down the bank towards the water. 
The shot, or shots, had hit him in a vulnerable spot — 
probably the spine — judging from the frantic way in 
which he was clawing the bank. The Indians went 

D .S 

a i 


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UJ 'Z 


mad with excitement, for they cherish an utter detesta- 
tion of the bear. 

"Ko shoo' any mor'. No kill. We play wit' bar," 
they jerked out as they pulled viciously across stream 
to the further accompaniment of weird gutturals and 
exclamatory shrieks in unintelligible Cree. We came 
into the bank with a jolt, and the four Siwashes, in- 
toxicated with excitement, grabbed poles and commenced 
jabbing at the wounded animal to prevent him from 
landing, and giving him sundry knocks on the head. 
This is the Indian's characteristic idea of sport, and 
recalled the pen-pictures vividly painted by Fenimore 
Cooper and others of the delight of the Indians in agony 
and torture. Williams, when he had regained his feet, 
snatched his rifle, and, pushing the Indians roughly aside, 
yelled savagely: "Stop it; out of the way," at the same 
moment lifting his rifle to give the struggling brute his 

"No shoo' ! No shoo' ! We play," cried the Indians. 

" Play be hanged ! We're not going to stop here 
all night to amuse you. Beat ! " 

But there was no need for further discussion. The 
corpse of the bear was floating down stream. The task 
was now to gain its body before it sank. The canoe 
was pushed off hurriedly, and as the animal swept by, 
Dennis grabbed it by the ear and, clinging tightly, towed 
it to a flat on the opposite side of the river, where it 
was quickly and deftly skinned, the Indians at the same 
time hacking off the hams for food. 

It proved to be a male of about three years, was of 
good size, but as a trophy of little value, because the 
coat was poor and thin, being the summer pelt. 
Accordingly further bear shooting was straightway 
vetoed, since we did not want to kill for killing's sake. 
This decision was resented by Dennis, who, in true 
Siwash style, desired to blaze away at anything that was 
moving, whether of value or otherwise. 


In camp that night bear steaks were the piece de 
resistance of the menu. The bullet which had brought 
that brute down had done its work well, as the spine 
— the best point in which to hit this animal — was com- 
pletely broken in two and an ugly jagged wound was 
caused by the bullet. Whether the Remington 22 of 
George Williams or the Savage automatic rifle of Lett 
had brought the quarry down could not be told, but the 
amusing part of the whole incident was that Dennis, 
in true Indian fashion, laid claim to the prize, notwith- 
standing that he had only pumped one shot at it, and 
that had missed, as the bear looked round after his crack 
to see what was the matter. 

The next day we had another spice of excitement. 
Two legs of bear were lying in the prow, and we were 
pulling along gaily in the misty morning, when we heard 
a furious screech over our heads. Looking up, there was 
a large bald-headed eagle poised about two hundred feet 
above, and evidently attracted by the sight of the fresh 
meat. He swooped down a bit, looking a trifle aggres- 
sive, and Lett whipped out his Browning automatic 
and let drive seven shots in rapid succession. Though 
he missed, owing to the difficult angle at which he was 
shooting, he evidently made things too warm for the 
bird, for we saw its wings buckle under after each shot, 
showing that the missile sped by it pretty closely. It 
took the hint and got to a higher level, giving vent to 
fiercer screeches than ever, which were reinforced from 
directly ahead. Looking forward w^e saw, perched on 
the topmost twig of a dead tree, another big bird. A 
bark from the "22 " started him off screeching madly, and 
as we came round a big cottonwood tree we spotted a 
bald-headed eagle's clumsy nest, perched like a crown 
on the top of a dead jack pine about fifty feet from the 
bank, and about the same distance above the ground, 
with the mother in possession. Another blaze, and she 
started off with a shriek. The din was terrific, for their 


infuriated screeches made the welkin ring. The three 
birds hung about us, wheeUng and circhng right over- 
head, and occasionally swooping down to within a hun- 
dred feet or so. They were bent on that meat, evidently. 
Two Kemingtons and the Browning automatic com- 
menced talking once more, and those birds had such 
an uncomfortable sixty or ninety seconds under the 
fusillade that was rained upon them that they beat 
a discreet retreat. Had we bagged those three birds 
we should have been richer by forty-five shillings, 
as there is a bounty on the head of the bald-headed 

Canoeing down the Fraser was strenuous work, and 
the day long. The cook tore us rudely from our sleep 
about 5.30 a.m., and although it was the early days of 
August the mornings were chilly, the ground vegetation 
being white with hoar frost, and the air misty and raw. 
We huddled round the camp-fire as breakfast was dis- 
cussed, about 5.45, and then there was a hurried rush 
to strike camp, which stimulated blood circulation some- 
what, for we invariably pushed off as the watch scored 
seven o'clock. The river was wrapped in a cold mist, 
which penetrated to the very marrow of the bones ; but 
as exercise outside of rowing or paddling was impossible, 
one had to sit and freeze until the welcome warm rays of 
the sun burst through the shroud over the water. About 
half-past eleven a sharp look out was kept for a suitable 
site on which to kindle a fire and dispose of a hurried 
lunch — generally pork and beans, with bannock, bacon, 
butter, jam and tea. The respite from the water was 
always very brief — never more than an hour — and when 
we were once more adrift, a combined sun-bath and 
siesta was snatched if the conditions were favourable. 
When it rained — and the rainfall in the Fraser valley is 
fierce at times, the climatic conditions being closely 
analogous to those obtaining in England — we sat huddled 
and wet, as miserable specimens of humanity as you 


could imagine, vainly endeavouring to restore some signs 
of warmth to our nipped extremities. About 6 o'clock 
in the evening the canoes were run ashore for the day, 
a blazing log fire was kindled , and while supper was being 
prepared the ground was cleared for the pitching of the 

Owing to the dense vegetation overhead — for the trees 
seemed to have raced upwards to get the warmth of 
the sun — the ground was as cold as an ice-well. In- 
deed, one had not to dig very deeply to come across 
traces of frost, and this state of affairs will continue 
until the land is cleared and the soil broken to let in the 
rays of the sun. Sleeping on such a couch, no matter 
how much ingenuity one might expend in concocting a 
mattress of spruce boughs, was not exactly like reposing 
beneath fleecy blankets and soft sheets on a spring mat- 
tress, for the heat radiating from the body tended to suck 
up the latent moisture and cold. Supper invariably put 
new life into us, and we sat around the fire with the 
gaunt tree-trunks walling us in like a prison, fighting 
the mosquitoes which, with the coming of eventide, 
rose up in clouds from concealed positions and swarmed 
to the attack. And they were not ordinary mosquitoes 
either, but exceptionally pugnacious specimens of their 
tribe, which could not be beaten off readily, and which, 
when you offered opposition, reared up on their back legs 
and fought like furies. We kindled "smudges" — small 
fires of damp leaves which emitted copious clouds of 
smoke — and suffered semi-suffocation, preferring a quasi- 
curing process, with our faces bathed in the nauseating 
fumes, to overwhelming onrushes of the ubiquitous 
enemy. One suffered smoke-drying until the lungs re- 
belled against the inhalation of the asphyxiating atmo- 
sphere by provoking a fit of violent choking and coughing. 
Then there was a rush to an open spiot to cleanse 
them with pure air, pursued by hordes of the foe, 
who swept to the attack with redoubled efforts, biting 


and stinging harder than ever in a kind of mad glee. 
Relief was only secured by return to the smoke. 

In the miserable darkness we turned into our blankets, 
first making sure that the nets which enshrouded our 
heads like a meat-safe did not harbour any of our winged 
enemies who had forced their way surreptitiously into 
the inner space and were lying low awaiting their 
opportunity to resume hostilities when we were asleep. 
Crawling into a mosquito net in the dark demands no 
little skill, and one of the party, Eussell, always per- 
formed unrehearsed acrobatic feats when crawling to his 
couch, which ended in his complete entanglement in the 

A little after noon on the third day out from Tete 
Jaune Cache we slipped by the mouth of Goat Eiver, and 
were then brought face to face with our first peril on 
the waterway — the Goat Eapids. A deserted prospector's 
shack caught the Indians' eyes, and they pulled rapidly 
ashore. We seized the opportunity to give our cramped 
limbs a stretch while the canoes were being overhauled 
and the transverse joints stiffened by logs of cedar wood 
torn from the roof of the neglected house. Some am- 
bitious and hardy old pioneer years before had the 
intrepidity to force his way painfully up to this point, 
magnetised by the yellow metal. A creek rattles into 
the Fraser here, and the stones giving indications 
of gold, he made this his home. He left a calendar 
behind him, on which he had endeavoured evidently 
to keep track of the days, but had apparently got into 
a hopeless tangle, and at last gave up the attempts in 

Once more aboard, we drifted stealthily towards the 
head of the rapids. The fall in the river here is con- 
siderable, and one can see the water racing downhill, 
frothing and foaming furiously, with short, choppy 
waves licking one another, and emitting a peculiar 
smacking sound like a hound cleaning its teeth after a 


juicy meal. Ugly rocks projected above the surface, like 
fangs ready to snap at any floating thing that came 
within their reach. The river was like a bath half filled 
with water, which two people pick up and attempt to 
carry, the result being that the w^ater curls and spatters 
in all directions. The declivity in the channel tended to 
pull the water downhill, the rocks sent it in another 
direction, the current in yet a third, and the undertow in 
a fourth, with the inevitable result — hopeless confusion. 
Rapids demand skilful navigation, and sturdy oarsmen 
who are not likely to give out through exertion, and who 
always possess a reserve of strength to pull the craft 
out of a tight corner. One does not strike a bee-line 
down stream, but saws from one side to the other, pick- 
ing out the channel, for the waters are shallow. If the 
dug-out goes amiss and hits a rock it cracks like a nut, 
splits in twain from end to end, and a capsize in such 
turbulent waters as the Goat Rapids invariably means 
the end, for no one could hope to swim a yard in that 

We struck the brink of the agitated mass. Immedi- 
ately the canoe was caught up like a rock, and bounced 
about in all directions, the cross pieces securing the two 
boats together groaning and moaning under the strain. 
The alert Indians pulled in steady long strokes, the 
steersmen dug their paddles deeply and threw their 
weight against them. The wonder is that the oars ever 
stand the strain. They bent ominously and gave short 
sharp cracks, but held out, A large rock stood directly 
in our path, and we were making straight for it at about 
ten miles an hour. It came nearer and nearer, the 
swishing waters making fiendish music. 

Every Indian was on his feet, watching that rock. 
We were in the spot where the water was racing at its 
fastest, and the shores slipped by as if on wheels. The 
Indians gave a deep dip into the water, holding the oars 
in readiness. 


"Now then," yelled out Williams. "All together. 
Row like hell ! " 

The reserve power of the Indians shot out with 
tremendous force. 

"Hu'son's Bay ! Ooo-ooo-ooo ! Hu'son's Bay ! " 

The body of Adventurers trading to the Far North 
is evidently the Fort George Siwashes' patron saint, for 
whenever spurred to great effort they yell "Hu'son's 
Bay ! " to the accompaniment of long , savage pulls , 
mingled with fearsome Cree gutturals, and exclamatory 
laughs as of derision at the fury of the water, which 
sound peculiarly out of place in desperate situations. 

The boat flew on. The rock, with its sharp edge set 
towards us, was scarcely ten feet distant, and then with 
a mighty swoop the steersman sent the boat shooting 
across the river, and we gave a sigh of relief. The rock 
had suddenly slipped to our rear. We at least had 
cheated it. The water was running still as rapidly, but 
was more agitated, and though we flopped about on its 
surface like a duck wounded in the wing, we kept saw- 
ing from side to side until the last stretch was gained, 
when the Indians eased up, just rowing enough to secure 
steering way, and we tore along madly. 

We seemed an age passing through that troubled mile 
of water; as a matter of fact, we rattled through in a 
matter of seconds. Then the Fraser, with its char- 
acteristic tendency towards striking contrasts, opened 
out and became as placid as a lake. The Indians threw 
down their oars, and, lolling back, sang one of their 
songs in the vernacular, or rapped out untunefully : 
"Goo'-bye, li'le gir', goo'-bye," which, being the only 
words they knew of the ditty, were repeated to serve as 
every line of verse and chorus. 

When we camped that night the Indians referred 

disdainfully to shooting the Goat Eapids as mere child's 

play, though they admitted that if we had shipped much 

water we should have been in ?i hole, since swamping 



in a rapid is a danger as great and as ever-present as 
striking a solid, sharp-edged rock. 

"Bu' wait. To-moro' we get Gran' Caneeon. Yo' 
fro' Lon'on, we sho' yo' sometin*. We go troo' lik* 
dat ! " shooting one palm over the other to indicate a 

Shooting the Grand Canon 

At " Hell's Gate " — Portaging the First Canon — Shooting the Second — 
Touch-and-Go — A Grim Warning — A Fertile Valley — Blue Jays — 
The (Same Warden's Lonely Life — A Fuel Station — Outracing the 
Peterborough Canoe — The Giscombe Rapids — At Fort George. 

We had heard much about this Grand Canon. It is re- 
garded as one of the worst on the Upper Fraser. Keller 
had recounted hairbreadth escapes which he and others 
had experienced while in its grip, and had told of the 
number who had got "fixed," his crude backwoods ex- 
pression for meeting a watery grave, while attempting to 
rush it. We had been anticipating the canon with 
mixed feelings, and were resolved, come what might, to 
pay it the respect it demanded. And here were the 
Indians treating it with contempt, although more than 
one of their tribe, expert with the paddle as he was, 
had entered its gloomy depths never to be seen nor heard 
of again, for the canon hugs its secrets tightly. 

It was late the next afternoon when we swung round 
a huge loop some three hundred yards across the bosom 
of the river running its normal pace. Over the trees we 
could see where the opposing ranges of mountains sud- 
denly swung towards the river to kiss, thereby forming 
the narrow fissure through which the waters rush 
furiously. Williams was graphic in his description. 
"Another few minutes, boys, and we'll be at hell's gate, 
so get ready ! ' ' 

We did, but not to go through. We had decided to 
take his and the Indians' advice — walk round. We 
crept round the bend, and presently saw a mass of rocks 



ahead, rearing up like two lofty walls on either side, 
making a portal gloomy and uninviting. We bumped 
into the bank, and the more important contents of the 
canoes were tumbled out pell-mell. Each man 
shouldered as much as he could, and tramped the well- 
trodden half-mile of portage through the bush to the 
lower end. Portaging is hard work, and it took us an 
hour. I w^as just turning to the trail for the last time, 
when the Indians crowded round, and each thrust out 
his hand. It was not a farewell, but each was giving me 
his watch ! 

"Go shoot caneeon. No tak' watch. Vairy like'y go 
over. Nevair know. Ha ! ha ! Shoot la Gran' Caneeon. 
We now sho' yo' somet'ing." 

Dennis even went to the trouble of guiding me to a 
spot where I could snatch a glimpse of them at the 
moment when they would be in the grip of the worst 
piece of water. The canoes were uncoupled, for each 
was to go alone with two men, one in the bow and the 
other at the stern. 

The mouth of the canon is certainly forbidding. It is 
not more than thirty feet across at the entrance, and 
the whole waters of the river, suddenly narrowed down 
from about 200 feet wide, have to pour through this 
gorge. They curl over the brink, and w'hen the canoe 
dipped, half its length was out of water. Moreover, the 
defile twists and turns, is a mass of evil rocks, and, drop- 
ping a matter of feet in half a mile, the stream rushes 
through with temfic fury. It was raining hard, the sky 
was overladen, and the greyness of the clouds deadened 
the green verdure of the primeval forest on either side. 
Immediately below, the canon was like a huge devil's 
bowl, the water fussing, spluttering and jumping in all 

Presently there was a weird shout, and the first canoe 
shot round the corner. The foremost Indian was stand- 
ing up working like a Trojan, while the steersman had 


literally thrown himself on his paddle to force the boat 
round. In an instant he had changed his position, and, 
with his foot against the rim of the dug-out to secure 
leverage, had squatted and was pulling on the paddle like 
grim death, the front Indian rowing as if demented, and 
giving vent to fierce cries of " Hu'son's Bay ! " with each 
pull. They flew through the bottom portal like a flash 
into a big basin, almost a lake, which was quite calm, 
pulled the boat round and paddled into the bank as if 
shooting the fiendish waters were a mere nothing. The 
other canoe followed hard on their heels. Both men 
and boats bore traces of the ordeal. The Indians were 
puffing like labouring locomotives after their exertion, 
were doused with water, and the boat itself was nearly 

The two canoes were quickly lashed together once 
more, and the baggage safely stowed aboard. A hundred 
yards below was another canon, and we were to be 
shipped across the river and landed on the opposite bank 
to make another portage. The second canon looked 
even grimmer than the first, for the wall of rbck rose 
higher on each side, like huge pillars, and the cavernous 
opening was scarcely fifty feet wide, presenting an aspect 
of sombre, awful grandeur. It was like peering into a 
huge vault, for no daylight could be seen beyond a slight 
splash of sky. 

We started off, but the Indians, finding the going 
easier than they expected, and plenty of water, did not 
land us on the opposite bank as arranged, but struck 
boldly for the caiion. As we slipped over the brink be- 
tween the imposing cliffs, and the boat suddenly awoke 
to life as it was caught up by the rushing waters, the 
Indians and those of the party equipped with oars jumped 
to their feet, while the rest of us were ready with various 
articles for baling out any water that might be shipped. 
About half-way through, the river turns sharply at right 
angles, a buttress of rock thrusting its nose half-way 


across the chaunel, around which the water swirls in a 
big eddy. We had reached the turn , and with a tremend- 
ous stroke Williams shouted : 

" Now then, pull like blazes ! " 

Seven paddles dipped simultaneously ; the tremendous 
leverage exerted lifted the boat half out of the water and 
turned her round as if on a pivot to negotiate the bend. 
We shipped a big wave and were baling for dear life, 
since the gunwale was almost awash. A mighty roar 
broke on our ears as we rounded the rock ; we were on 
the edge of a big whirlpool where the water was swing- 
ing round at terrific speed and with a vortex some six 
feet deep, like a big cup, the bottom of which we could 
plainly see as a mass of foam. The canoes had struck 
the edge of the whirlpool, and we were being sucked in. 
The men rowed harder than ever, the two steersmen 
hanging over the canoes as they pushed against their oars 
to force the prow of the canoe away from the maelstrom. 
They had to dig their finger-nails into their sweeps to 
retain their hold, as they could feel the whirlpool tug- 
ging at the submerged blades. If one snapped, the 
Grand Canon would have "fixed" another party. But 
the paddles held, and as the nose of the catamaran was 
slowly and almost imperceptibly jammed round, the outer 
swirl caught the stern of the canoe and flung it with an 
unseating jerk across the river clear of the peril. We 
had an anxious thirty seconds battling against the sucking 
force of the water, and the Indians showed that they 
were "up against it" by their grim faces and the way 
they bit their lips. The Siwash may be lazy, but when 
he gets into a tight corner he keeps his head and fights 
with the strength of a giant. Swamping, or the snap 
of a sweep, is the danger they fear, and the way the 
canoes groaned as they bent under the dual and opposite 
forces might have split the dug-out from end to end, 
since the cotton wood , with its straight grain , does not re- 
quire much stress to rend it in twain. While the men 


were battling with the current, complete silence pre- 
vailed, but as we shot across the river they gave vent to 
a loud derisive laugh. That is the true Indian. Directly 
he has cleared a danger he mocks it. 

" That's the thing you've got to avoid coming through 
here," commented Williams, nodding towards something 
on the bank a few yards below the whirlpool. 

That "something" was a rude wooden cross. Two 
fellows, a half-breed and a Si wash, were coming through 
the canon — expert waterdogs and as skilled in handling 
a dug-out as men could be. Like us, they evidently 
got caught on the edge of the maelstrom, but at the 
critical moment their sweep, unable to stand the awful 
strain, gave way, they were tossed into the whirlpool, 
and at last the canoe made a straight dive, like a stick 
on end, into the wicked vortex. Both were drowned, 
and the primitive monument stands there a grim warn- 
ing to all and sundry who try to pass through that 
troubled stretch. One involuntarily shuddered at the 
thought of their fierce struggle against overwhelming 
odds, and their feelings when they realised at last the 
impotency of their efforts. And they are not the 
only ones w^ho have gone to their last account in that 
gorge. Every man who attempts to go through, no 
matter how clever an oarsman he may be, takes his life 
in his hand. Its passage is easier at some times than 
at others ; it all depends upon the state of the river and its 
velocity. We came through when the water was some- 
what high, and uglier than usual. 

But the whirlpool, in bitter mortification at its de- 
feat, had thrown us away to face another terror. Right 
in the middle of the stream reared up a huge rock. The 
current sped directly towards it, as we could see by the 
mass of dead trees piled up on its head, and curled round 
on either side. After we had cleared the whirlpool the 
rowers rested, letting the river speed us along until this 
new danger confronted us barely thirty feet distant. 


Then they rowed like fury, making for the rock, bow on. 
It rushed towards us with fearful speed, and then the 
famous cry, "Now then ! Hu'son's Bay ! " rang out again. 
The oars bent to the task, the speed of the boat increased, 
and when it seemed as if a crash were inevitable the nose 
of the catamaran swung round gracefully, and in an in- 
stant the rock was well astern. We passed so close that 
an oar could have touched the granite fang. The rush- 
ing water picked us up, the Indians rested again on their 
oars, and we shot out of the rapids as if from a gun on 
to a wide stretch of water, for the river suddenly ex- 
panded to a width of some three hundred feet and lolled 
lazily along. We found out afterwards that we had 
portaged the canon which had presented the lesser 
dangers, and had had a pretty grim fight with the perils 
of the second. George Williams, who knew every inch 
of that gorge, said so, and did not wish for another such 
shave, and he certainly ought to have known. But in 
his characteristic frontier manner he made light of it — 
when we were safely through — on the plea that troubles 
overcome are not worth a thought ; they may cause the 
hair to stand on end for a few minutes, but are incidental 
to life in a new country. 

The canon negotiated, we said good-bye to the moun- 
tains, for they hurried away from the river's bank in 
almost a straight line, leaving a wide open valley, covered 
with dense brush and towering trees. The river cased up 
its pace, which wns not, however, to our fancy, as it in- 
volved harder rowing. It is this valley, stretching for 
about a hundred miles to Fort George, which is com- 
manding the immediate attention of the settlers. The 
land is almost as level as a billiard-table, and is well- 
watered by rivers and creeks which empty into the 
Fraser, the most important tributary on the north side 
being the North Fork. The agricultural possibilities on 
all sides are immense, for the soil is wonderfully rich, 
though clearing is a stupendous task. 


Although we were denied the sight of strange human 
faces, visitors were not long in making their appearance 
when we pitched camp for the midday meal or at night. 
These were the blue jays, so-called from their gorgeous 
royal-blue plumage. They are exceedingly bold, appear- 
ing to know intuitively that their companionship is 
welcomed by the wanderers through the bush. They 
herald their approach by a jarring screech, and take up 
a position in a tree near by to size up the situation. 
Like the robin at home, they are perky, and when they 
realise that a friendly greeting awaits them, they are 
not long before they fly to the ground and hop about the 
feet of the campers, snatching this or that piece of food 
and beating a hurried retreat to a safe distance to devour 
it in peace. In the course of a few minutes they have 
become sufficiently tame to take proffered food from an 
outstretched hand. These birds are among the few en- 
countered in the Fraser Eiver valley, the chicken hawk 
and eagles being the object of human hostility, while 
the raven is met only occasionally, and never approaches 
very closely, preferring to con strangers sagely from the 
safe perch of the topmost branch of the highest tree in 
the vicinity. No traveller would think of lifting a finger 
against the blue jay, and the bird's industrious efforts to 
rifle the larder are regarded with amusement. When we 
struck camp we invariably left a small colony of them 
chattering and fighting over the remnants of food we 
had left behind. 

While the life of the fire warden whom we met on 
Little Smoky Eiver is undoubtedly lonely, yet he has 
his family to keep him company. The game warden, 
whom we met later, has a far more pitiable existence. 
We were making a smart pace down mid-stream when 
the sharp eyesight of A-mo detected the outlines of a 
Peterborough among the overhanging branches about 
half a mile ahead, slowly creeping up the river. We 
were travelling through a country rich in moose, the 


shooting of which is sternly prohibited except during 
a season of a few days' duration later in the year. 
Indeed, the previous afternoon, we had been within a 
dozen feet of one of these magnificent creatures while 
quietly drinking, and although Dennis had grabbed his 
rifle and was about to let drive in true Indian fashion, 
the threat of being pitched overboard if he did fire, as 
the meat was useless to us, had the desired effect. The 
animal lifted its massive head, regarded us with momen- 
tary wonder and alarm, and then plunged madly into the 

The game warden was evidently suspicious of us. 
He guessed that if we got within bullet's reach of one 
of these animals we should not let it escape. The bulky 
appearance of our coupled dug-outs confirmed his sus- 
picions, and he resolved upon a closer examination. He 
pulled his frail boat into the centre of the river, right 
in our path, and just paddled sufficiently to off-set the 
current. From his position he was enabled to glance 
over our approaching vessel from stem to stem, and, 
satisfied that we had no contraband aboard, he let us 
pass within three feet, with a curt greeting and an in- 
quiry as to whether the fire warden was nearabouts. 
The game warden wanders up and down the rivers of 
this wild country the whole year through. The loneli- 
ness is such as can be felt. His home by day is a frail 
craft barely eighteen feet in length, while in the bow is 
piled up roughly his domicile by night — a small A-tent 
and bedding. Sometimes for weeks he never sees a soul 
to speak to, and even the Indians and backwoods- 
men confessed that, though their positions were lonely, 
they preferred their situations to the roaming life and 
greater loneliness of Eoberts the game warden. George 
Williams sagely summed up the situation in the brief 
comment, "No one but a blarmed Englishman would 
ever take the job on." 

When we were within easy distance of Fort George 


we were introduced to another way of making a living 
in the bush. We observed a small A-tent on shore, and 
could hear the steady plonk, plonk, plonk of an axe en- 
gaged in tree-felling. We gave a shrill hail, and in a few 
seconds two gaunt, sparsely clad figures appeared at the 
water's edge, momentarily ceasing their labours to in- 
vestigate the source of the greeting. Beside them was a 
huge stock of spht wood. What was it for? Well, 
adventurous, enterprising spirits down in Fort George 
were planning the steamboat subjugation of the Fraser 
River, and fuel was necessary to their scheme. These 
shallow-draught river craft burn wood, which is abun- 
dant and cheap, in preference to coal, which is scarce and 
expensive. Wood-loading stations have to be disposed 
at frequent intervals. 

These two young fellows heard about the project and 
immediately conceived the idea of going up the river and, 
at a suitable point, establishing a fuel station. The huge 
pile beside them represented a month's labour, and aggre- 
gated about 115 cords, firewood measurement. The 
steamboat company would pay them 14s. 6d. a cord mea- 
suring 4 feet high by the same in depth and 8 feet in 
length, so that their four weeks' toil was worth to them, 
roughly, a matter of J983. Seeing that their expenses 
were practically nothing, comprising only a stock of pro- 
visions, a small tent, one or two kitchen utensils, a 
blanket or two, and a supply of axes, the whole of which 
could be covered by a ten-pound note, it will be seen that 
their investment was highly profitable. When the con- 
struction of the railway commences through the Fraser 
Eiver Valley and the contractors' steamboats hurtle up 
and down the waterway with supplies for the camps, 
such axemen as these will earn the attractive wage of 
above d920 a month, for the engines burn about a cord 
of wood per hour. 

The day after we passed the Grand Canon we notched 
our longest day's run — 62 miles — rowing from 6.30 a.m. 


to 6 p.m., with only 45 minutes' respite for lunch. And 
it was hard work all the time ; it was like rowing over a 
huge lake, the current being very sluggish and certainly 
not making more than four miles an hour, even though it 
was slightly in flood. 

We had been plodding along for about three hours 
when a wreath of smoke was observed curling up from 
the trees. Louis instantly gave vent to a long-drawn-out 

Wah 000 — wah wah oo — ooo — ooo . ' ' Silence 

for a few minutes, broken only by the echoing of the 
cry. Then there came across the water the unmistakable 
stentorian tones of an American. 

"Gee- whiz! You sons of sea cooks got down here 
already! Guess you've been going some! Catch you 
up in an hour. So long." 

It was our friend of the Peterborough canoe, with our 
mail from Tete Jaune Cache. We threw back a defiant 
shout and laugh. The Indians, inspired by the signs 
of a race, rowed harder than ever, and we made the 
canoes clip along merrily. Lunch was hurried down, 
and we were off again. The Si washes were determined 
not to be overtaken by, to their mind, a despicable Peter- 
borough while they could row. At 6 o'clock that evening 
we caught sight of a few shacks in a clearing among the 
trees. It was Giscombe. We pulled in smartly, beached 
the canoes, and our dejected spirits were once more re- 
vived by the sight of a dozen or so white faces — of settlers 
and frontier traders already in possession. We were on 
the fringe of civilisation once more, and we sat down to 
supper that night with a keener relish than we had had 
for five days. 

About two hours later the Peterborough drew in and 
our mail once more reverted to us. We were a jovial 
party that night, for one of these Americans — they both 
hailed from the Windy City down in Illinois — was the 
most exuberant fellow-creature we had struck for weeks, 
and he kept us going with anecdotes, reminiscences, and 


experiences of a prospector's life from Klondike to Tete 
Jaune Cache, from Nome to Mexico. 

The last peril of the river lay a mile distant — the 
Giscombe rapids, described by our genial American friend 
as "ten miles of hell.'* That was certainly cheering. 
However, the Indians were in conclave, and at last sug- 
gested that as the occupants of the Peterborough were 
unfamiliar with its waters, we should give them a pilot, 
and they in return should help us out by carrying some 
of our baggage, as our canoes were a trifle too low down 
in the water to get through safely. The bargain was 
struck, and in the misty dawn the two crews were hard 
at work, George Williams agreeing to steer the Peter- 
borough . 

Giscombe Portage is an important point on the Upper 
Fraser. A few miles to the north is the height of land 
on the opposite slope of which nestles Summit Lake, 
the outlet giving rise to the Crooked Eiver, which forms 
one leg of the Parsnip, this becoming in turn the mighty 
Peace River, which flows through one of the most fertile 
territories in the Great North -West, and finally empties 
into the Arctic Ocean as the mighty Mackenzie. The 
portage is about nine miles long, and has formed a 
well-trodden highway for traffic to the land of the North. 
During the Klondike gold rush a large number from 
"down South " trekked this way to the new Eldorado. 

Our canoes lightened somewhat, they had a higher 
freeboard and rode much more easily. The rapids were 
a bit wicked, and we were in for some more hair-raising. 
It was about 7 o'clock that we pushed ofP on our last lap 
of forty -one miles on the Fraser Eiver, and, nursing their 
energy for the tussle looming ahead, the Indians sat 
stolidly still, just giving a spurt now and again to get 
steering way. At last we were within a few yards of the 
edge of the choppy run with its twists and turns, con- 
trary currents, narrow passages, and bristling rocks 
lurking for the most part about two inches below the 


surface, and only showing their whereabouts by ruffs of 
foam. The water could be seen running down-hill, and 
we were soon in the melee. The Indians, at the prospect 
of a race with a light Peterborough, were keen, and 
rowed like demons. The manner in which the rapids 
have to be criss-crossed is astonishing. First you are 
driving at full speed towards the south bank, passing 
rocks so closely that you could lean over and touch them ; 
then there is a race to the other bank, the Indians cal- 
culating the side drift to a nicety. It is touch-and-go the 
whole time. The danger of our run through the rapids 
was partially removed from our eyes by the inspiriting 
race and the evolutions which George Williams was exe- 
cuting in the Peterborough, to the dismay of his jovial 
companion from Chicago, who could not for the life of 
him understand why the pilot wanted to go on expedi- 
tions off the beaten channel among a seething mass of 
foam and rocks. The Peterborough, riding so lightly, 
bounced like a cork, and the amusing American was get- 
ting a more than fair share of excitement. 

When at last we cleared the broken, swiftly-running 
foam — the ten miles had been covered in an hour, and 
we had shipped little water — the Indians settled down to 
a hard row. We raced that Peterborough time after 
time, for it was light and made swift pace. But the 
Indians, with their long powerful strokes, could overtake 
it and leave it behind with little trouble. 

About 3 o'clock we rounded a bend through lofty 
tree-clothed banks. Immediately ahead, at the end of our 
perspective view of water, was a gap in the endless forest ; 
a church spire broke the horizon of timber. Eude shacks 
of diminutive size loomed up. We put more effort into 
our strokes and sped along. We swung across a broad 
estuary — where the blue waters of the Nechaco join the 
yellowish-green of the Fraser — shot under a bank on 
which were crowded " klootchmans ," as wives of the 
Siwashes are called, who laughed, giggled, and threw 


greetings to our Indian oarsmen ; hugged the bank for 
some distance, and finally pulled up at the mouth of a 
mere stream. We clambered ashore, toiled up the slope, 
and stood within the shadow of a famous landmark of 
New British Columbia — the Hudson's Bay Post, the 
white walls of which glistened in the brilliance of the 
unsurpassable sunlight. There at our feet lay a town 
with a great future — Fort George. 

A Metropolis in the Making 

The Story of Fort George — Its Position in Commercial Strategy — The First 
Settlers — An Inland Port that-is-to-be — Streets in Embryo — Soaring 
Prices of Freeholds — Recreations — " Hudson's Bay Rum " — Prices 
of Commodities — The Story of a Man who Succeeded — A Splendid 
Country for Mixed Farming — Fruit Culture and Summer Frosts — 
Starting a Newspaper — Taking their Pleasures Madly — The Tele- 

As one looked down upon the pulsating little town, 
rapidly pushing out its tentacles of streets and avenues 
north and west, forcing the wall of dense forest back 
farther and farther, one's thoughts flew back a hundred 
years ; recalled Mackenzie's wonderful journey wherein 
he discovered the source of the famous river which bears 
his name, and on his way out to the Pacific struck the 
Fraser Paver near Giscombe Portage and skirted this 
point. One almost wonders how he came to miss the 
estuary of the Nechaco, since he must have been some- 
what puzzled by the strange line which runs well defined 
almost down the centre of the river. South of the line 
are the muddy waters of the Fraser, while north are the 
crystal blue waters of the Nechaco, and it is some time 
before the two commingle. The line of demarcation is 
plainly visible, and although the estuary of the Nechaco 
cannot be discerned readily, since it is hidden by low- 
lying islands, giving the Fraser at the junction the ap- 
pearance of a lake, yet the two strongly coloured waters 
running side by side could not fail to create curiosity. 
The only explanation that can be offered is that the 
famous explorer must have hugged the south bank very 
tightly, in which event, owing to the width of the river, 



the phenomenon would escape his observation from a 

The trading post dat«s back from the year 1807, and 
was named in honour of the then reigning King, Much 
water has rolled past Fort George since that day : the old 
and stout wooden walls have witnessed strange sights and 
passed through many vicissitudes ; but the strangest 
episode of all was the appearance of a few sturdy adven- 
turous spirits, some three or four years ago — almost a 
century to the year after the foundation of the post — 
with their axes and blankets, who set to work sedulously 
to lay the foundations of what cannot help becoming the 
capital city of New British Columbia. 

The position is commercially strategical. There is 
every attribute for development into a busy hub. The 
Fraser flows by the front door ; the Nechaco rolls by the 
back entrance, meandering through a wonderfully fertile 
valley of nearly 300,000 acres. The mountains, in the 
hollows of which the innumerable streams rise and flow 
northwards to swell the great rivers pouring into the 
Arctic seas, run in ridges radiating from this point like 
the spokes of a wheel ; and pushing westwards from the 
north through their passes, one eventually comes to this 
focus. In fact, all roads from the north, east and west 
lead to Fort George, and those who, four years ago, had 
the prescience and tenacity to state that Fort George 
would become a "humming " city, are heaping up corro- 
boration every day. When the Grand Trunk Pacific 
comes in from the north-west, west, and east, when 
Edmonton is less than twenty-four hours' ride to the east, 
and the Pacific at Prince Rupert aad Vancouver is 
about the same space of time distant on the west, then 
much will be doing. The town will go ahead with a rus-h 
as the railway unveils new fields of industry, and creates 
new openings for human activity. 

When the town-builders arrived on the scene a pretty 
problem faced them. They must have cast envious eyes 


upon the thousand-acres tract of the Indian reservation, 
occupying the angle at the junction of the rivers, where 
some 200 Siwashes drag out a miserable existence by 
eome means or other, and live under conditions which an 
English dog would spurn — for it was the only open level 
stretch of country for miles around. But casting round 
half a mile below the village they found the high bank 
of the river giving way to a gentle slope, where first-class 
mooring facilities for shallow-draught vessels could be 
easily and inexpensively provided. 

Yet the outlook was forbidding in the extreme. 
Dense scrub and towering trees lapped the water, and 
stretched back in an unbroken tangled mass to the ridge 
behind. Undeterred by the prospect, they set bravely to 
work. In a short space of time they had cleared a large 
area, and had plotted a network of streets on the 
American plan, where the main avenues run in one 
direction — broad thoroughfares from 60 to 80 feet wide 
— with the lateral arteries crossing at right-angles at 
regularly spaced intervals. The moment the plots were 
staked out, they sold under the hammer like hot cakes. 
Inside plots facing the main thoroughfares down by the 
waterside fetched from dG80 to £95 apiece, while comers 
with frontages on two streets ran up to as much 
as dG200. The purchasers squatted on their freeholds in 
tents, bravely facing privations and adventure. As soon 
as the steam engine and circular saw were brought up 
from the south by superhuman effort, erected, and set to 
work ripping the tree-trunks into planks, the settlers 
changed from canvas to wooden dwellings. When I 
arrived, the town was in the throes of this transition to 
timber. The next development is permanent masonry, 
but much will happen before that move is made. The 
community has got to shake itself down ; has to let the 
different social, industrial and commercial districts de- 
fine themselves, and determine their own particular 
localities. At present Fort George is in the melting-pot 


stage; everyone is too busy setting the foundations of 
the city firmly and irremovably to trouble about which 
is east and which is west from the social point of view. 

It was a frontier town in the fullest sense of the word. 
Consider the situation and conditions, then you can gain 
some idea of the formidable nature of the task confront- 
ing the builders in converting into a hive of industry what 
had been forest since British Columbia was moulded. 
The nearest railway station was Ashcroft, 318 miles to 
the south. Every ounce of material had to be brought 
across country by animal labour, and freight soared to 
fancy prices. From Ashcroft, fortunately, the Cariboo 
Eoad, a splendidly built highway — ^itself a product and 
reminiscence of an early gold stampede — ran northwards 
for 163 miles to Soda Creek on the Fraser Kiver. But 
the path thence, for 155 miles, was existent more in name 
than in actuality. 

When the nucleus of Fort George's population came 
in, they had a rough experience, for the last stretch 
was a fierce hand-to-hand fight with deadfall, obstructed 
trail, rock and muskeg. When the subsequent rush set 
in — a host of other ' ' Fort Georges ' ' sprang into exist- 
ence in the vicinity of the pioneer town owing to the suc- 
cess of the initial enterprise — the sight was fearful, and 
the plight of those surging forward to get in on the 
"ground floor" recalled the fearful struggle to reach the 
Klondike overland from Edmonton. The sun had just 
begun to drive hoary winter back to the Arctic Circle, 
and the going was difficult. The stream of speculators, 
traders and others tumbled out of the train at Ashcroft 
and poured northwards as best they could. Some seized 
the stage, others rode on horseback, but a larger number 
walked, reeling off some twenty or thirty miles a day, 
swallowing meals hurriedly at stopping-places at two 
ehillings apiece, and passing the night either wrapped in 
a blanket under a tree, or jammed into the cramped bed- 
room of a stopping-place or stable, for which accommoda- 


tion they had to pay two shillings. Anyone who has 
endeavoured to woo a few hours' repose in one of these 
shacks will readily admit that Sam Weller's twopenny 
rope ranked as a feather-bed in comparison. The stop- 
ping-places drove a thriving trade, as did also the cattle 
dealers at Ashcroft, who flocked there in large numbers 
with pack-horses which they sold to luckless travellers at 
£20 per head, but which would have been dear at half 
the price. 

South Fort George pursued the even tenor of its way 
unconcerned. It held the long stretch of waterfront, and 
that was a vital consideration, for down at Soda Creek 
shallow-draught steamboats were being built, and soon, for 
the first time since its birth, the mighty Upper Fraser and 
its forests echoed the shriek of a siren and the throb of 
a piston. The arrival of the first steamboat was received 
with tremendous jubilation by the Fort Georgers. They 
were now in touch with civilisation as represented by 
Quesnel and Soda Creek. Then another advance was 
made. A stage coach ran between Ashcroft and Soda 
Creek, connecting with the steamers, and covering the 
163 miles in three days. But such transport was too 
slow ; there was no room for eighteenth-century methods 
out in a twentieth-century territory, for the new town 
was going ahead like a bush-fire. Commerce clamoured 
for more rapid travel. It came in the form of a motor- 
car, which reeled off the 163 miles between Ashcroft 
and Soda Creek in ten or twelve hours. That was 
something like travelling. 

Once the town was cut off for two months by a mishap 
to a steamboat, and the inhabitants were reduced to 
famine. Did they sit down and bemoan their fate? Not 
by any means. Down on Fort George's waterfront 
brawny workmen set to work building the hull of a 
steamboat, and, what was more, safely committed it to 
the bosom of the Fraser. The machinery was brought 
up with infinite labour and at prodigious expense and sue- 


cessfully installed, so that it was not long before the new 
creation was whisking up and down the waterway. The 
maiden trip of that vessel was a red-letter day for the 
interior of British Columbia. A town of less than one 
hundred people who could build and launch a fair- 
sized steamboat without the hundred-and-one facilities 
of a shipyard, could do anything ! 

Fort George is likely to develop into a busy inland 
port. The shallow-draught boats, after establishing 
themselves on the Fraser between Soda Creek and the 
new town, undertook voyages of discovery up the various 
other rivers. This was a somewhat daring enterprise, 
considering the swift currents, lurking dangers, and 
absence of all knowledge concerning their navigation. 
The only pilots available were the Indians, and it was 
found that their intelligence was remarkably reliable, so 
thoroughly have they studied the idiosyncrasies of these 
treacherous waterways. The smallest and shallowest- 
draught vessel was employed for this exploration work, 
and it succeeded in making its way up the Fraser as far 
as Tete Jaune Cache, ascended the Nechaco to Fort 
Fraser, a matter of 120 miles, and also the Stuart Eiver 
to Fort St. James on Stuart Lake, 139 miles. These 
investigations conclusively proved that there are about 
1,000 miles of navigable waters available to shallow- 
draught steamers in the interior of British Columbia 
which can be exploited profitably, and of which Fort 
George is the obvious centre, including a continuous 
stretch of 470 miles on the Eiver Fraser. 

We found the town in the full excitement of develop- 
ment. Main Street was paved with some inches of dust, 
and had a surface something like the edge of a saw, though 
timber sidewalks were provided. One avenue was in 
flames ; another was a piled-up mass of levelled tree trunks 
smouldering and smoking ; one cross-street was impass- 
able unless you had an axe to cut your way through the 
bush ; while four feet of muskeg ooze and slime barred 


another. The plans showed streets almost without 
number, but it would have been impossible to locate them 
in the forest, though the wooden pegs were somewhere 
there, setting out the delimitations. 

Every man was in his shirt-sleeves doing something 
or other. Down on the waterside the saw-mill was 
screeching from morning to night ripping up logs, and 
the 30,000 feet of lumber it turned out in the day disap- 
peared like magic at anything between £6 and iGlO per 
thousand lineal feet. Twice the quantity could have 
been absorbed, and then there would have been demands 
for more. Labour was scarce, wages were heavy ; the 
Indians stood stolidly by and refused to touch a tool un- 
less paid from 16s. to £1 a day. White labour soared up 
to 25s. a day, with all found. One English carpenter was 
netting 29s. a day, and when offered a job for the winter 
a few miles out, refused to take it under 62s. a day, with 
all found ! There was not a soul idle in the whole place, 
and workshies and law-breakers, if they did reach this 
point, were treated in a peculiarly drastic and effective 
manner. There was no argument : they were made to 
work. There was no such thing as charity for unem- 
ployed, as the demand for labour far exceeded the supply. 

The clerks of two banks were endeavouring to work 
scheduled hours, but business ruled otherwise; the little 
restaurant started by two enterprising young waitresses 
who had hurried up from Quesnel in the first move to the 
town was striving hard to fulfil all demands for meals 
three times a day at 2s. apiece per head. Those who 
could not get a seat inside the restaurant secured their 
victuals and enjoyed an alfresco meal sprawling on a 
plank or the bare ground ; a baker was turning out 1-lb. 
loaves at a shilling apiece and dough nuts at four a shilling, 
clearing out his stock before the morning was gone ; land 
agents were busy selling lots, for the freeholds were 
constantly changing hands, and the prices soared upwards 
like an aeroplane, those who had paid originally £80 or 


£95 for an inside plot selling readily at dGlSO upwards, 
while corner lots which were bought at the auction for 
jG200 found buyers at anything from £300 upwards ; 
timber-frame shops and dwellings were springing up like 
mushrooms : a bare plot to-day was covered with an 
imposing frame building to-morrow, and occupied the 
next day ; stores were serving an endless stream of cus- 
tomers with requirements of all descriptions. 

Ample recreation was provided in the pool room , where 
snooker, Boston, and pyramids held sway. When the 
frequenters grew tired of cue and ivories the tables were 
pushed into a corner and vent was found for exuberance 
in dancing to the strains of a wheezy, expiring gramo- 
phone, in footwear which could scarcely be described as 
ballroom, for heavy hobnailed half-inch soles clattered 
over the uneven knotty boards. Opposite was a small 
gambling hell presided over by a Chinaman, whence 
continually issued, "Hit me! Hit me again!" as 
black-jack was briskly played, with poker and other 
games of chance. This saloon was a certain outlet for 
money, and as Johnny is an inveterate gambler, partici- 
pating with keen gusto in the games, always winning, he 
was acquiring a pretty long and heavily weighted stock- 
ing. To play a game of chance with a Chinaman is like 
pitting oneself against an automatic machine. 

An interesting psychological sidelight was afforded at 
this gambling den. There was one worthy who was 
possessed of some fine horses, one of which was always 
hitched to the door-post. It stood there for hours while 
its owner was inside trying to win fortune with the 
cards. Presently there would be a hubbub. The player 
emerged having lost everything. "Here! how much for 
the plug?" drawing attention to his horse. "Give me 
eighty dollars ! What, too much ! Well, say seventy ! 
No good ! Sixty ! Fifty ! Gee-whiz ! you are a lot of 
robbers. Who says forty?" Eventually the horse 
would change hands for about thirty dollars, and, armed 


with the greenbacks, the gambler once more disappeared 
exultantly into the saloon. When he won — and he did 
often and heavil}' at that — he came out, and bought back 
his horse for double the price he had received. If he lost 
he simply staggered back to his tent, to reappear the next 
day with another animal and to repeat the same round. 

Fort George was a "dry" town — officially. Actually 
it was "wetter" than a licensed community bristling 
with gin-palaces. Drink was freely smuggled in, while 
"rock-cut" was brewed extensively in a certain quarter 
and vended as "Hudson's Bay Rum" to secure a ready 
sale, this being the most famous drink in the West. It 
was as much like Hudson's Bay Rum as salad oil is 
like Chartreuse. The opium or nicotine juice with which 
it was saturated provoked intoxication in the shortest 
possible space of time, and the Indians were to be seen 
on every hand staggering and reeling under its baneful 
influence. The larger, well-ordered section of the com- 
munity endeavoured to check this abuse, but in vain. 
There was no policeman within a hundred miles, so the 
law could not be invoked. Had the brewer and vendor 
been caught red-handed he would have received short 
shrift, for both he and his evil machinery would have 
made a sudden acquaintance with the Fraser. But his 
hour of retribution came in due course. We heard that 
a police inspector stole up from Quesnel and caught the 
" blind pig ' ' very much alive. It squealed terribly while 
being put out of business, the owner was fined heavily 
on the spot, and given two years' imprisonment, or as an 
alternative to the latter to leave the province within a 
week. He preferred exile, and his pockets were sadly 
depleted when, amid general execration, he departed. 

Fort George was a town in which money was made 
easily and melted quickly. You -went into a store. 
Nothing was less than "two bits" — a survival of the 
Spanish influence in California — the term generally used 
throughout the province to denote the equivalent of an 


English shilling, and the tradesmen, not approving of 
metal currency, were endeavouring to make the paper 
dollar the standard. For instance, you could buy two 
1-lb. pots of jam for eighty cents — 3s. 4d. — but three for a 
dollar, and so on. Other articles were sold in the same 
manner. In a frontier country, paper money is certainly 
preferable to coins, being less bulky and weighty, while 
the possibility of loss is more remote, the frontiersman 
carrying his "wad" rolled snugly in a little purse sewn 
to his belt. 

No possible stretch of imagination could call Fort 
George a poor man's town. As we were striking the 
trail again to travel 320 miles across New Caledonia, we 
had to provision here. The prices, which would have 
provoked hysteria in an English housewife, were as 
follows : — 

Sugar . 
Fresh meat . 
Tea and coffee 
Butter . 
Dried fruits 
Rolled oatmeal 
Peaches, apricots 
Bacon . 
Eggs . 
Bread . 











per 100 Iba. 
per lb. 

per 5-lb. bag 
6d, per 2-lb, 


oa. per s;-id. iin. 
8d. to Is. lOid. per lb. 
per dozen, 
per 1-lb. loaf. 

When it is remembered that it cost the merchants £20 
per ton to haul their produce from Ashcroft, the reason 
for these high prices is readily appreciable. The baker, 
who, like many other Fort George pioneers, had trekked 
to this point from the Klondike after the gold fever died 
out, said that he paid £32 per ton more for his flour in 
Fort George than it had cost him in Dawson City ! 

Vegetables and farm produce were just as expensive. 
Potatoes ranged from 5d. to 3d. per lb., according to 
season, and easily fetched 14s. 6d. per bushel. Cabbages, 


peas, and greens were 4d. per lb. all round, while 
chickens were a luxury at 16s. 6d. each. 

Yet fortunes have been made in Fort George and its 
immediate vicinity by many a bright young fellow. One 
large landholder related a fascinating and romantic story, 
typical of dozens of others in this new territory. Like 
every other member of the little community, he was in 
his shirt-sleeves, bared to the elbow. He was no stranger 
to Fort George; on the contrary, he was one of the 
first white men, apart from the trappers and traders, to 
thread the country. According to his own account he 
first came into the district in 1900, having made his way 
here by canoe from the Peace Eiver district, portaging 
across country from one river to the other, and making 
165 miles in nine days of continuous hard toiling. He 
naturally came down the Nechaco and Fraser rivers, 
since Vancouver was his objective, and the Siwash canoes 
piloted him down the terrible waterway through its 
swirling canon to Quesnel and Soda Creek, where he 
struck the Cariboo Eoad. 

His home was Boston way ; Harvard his alma mater, 
and he had graduated in medicine, just to satisfy his 
parents, so he said. But forceps and drugs did not 
appeal to his temperament. The Great North-West of 
Canada exercised an irresistible fascination over him, so 
he left the Atlantic seaboard and set off to the great un- 
known. He made a prolonged cruise through the Peace 
River district, a keenly observant eye fastening on the 
most attractive spots. The next year found him again 
casting about Fort George from Giscombe Eapids to 
Summit Lake; round Stuart Lake and through the 
Nechaco Valley. In this wise two summers were spent. 
He spotted many an excellent stretch, carefully making 
notes of just the land he would like to acquire. In all 
he staked 20 sections — 12,800 acres of land. When he 
opened negotiations with the Government for its acquisi- 
tion, he was regarded somewhat with pity, inasmuch as 


this region was practically a terra incognita, and official- 
dom had no idea of its agricultural wealth. As a result, 
he secured the land practically at his own figure — a matter 
of cents per acre. Eetuming home, he succeeded in en- 
listing the interest of some friends, impressed upon them 
the point that this new country was bound to boom 
sooner or later, and that, taken all round, it was a "good 
thing." A small syndicate was formed, and with the 
financial support thus provided the valleys of the Fraser 
and Nechaco rivers were skimmed of their cream in the 
way of choice land at leisure to the tune of some 200,000 

The little party clung tightly to its holdings until the 
financial panic of 1907 startled everyone in the United 
States. His friends were infected with the general atmo- 
sphere of uncertainty, took alarm, and forthwith an- 
nounced that they had held on to this New British 
Columbia land long enough , and as there was no prospect 
of the long-expected " boom " materialising, they were 
going to unload their shares in the worthless wilderness. 
By dint of great effort he contrived to buy out the whole 
of their holdings, and thereby found himself the undis- 
puted owner of over 315 square miles of arable country 
scattered through New Caledonia within easy reach of 
Fort George. Scarcely had he bought out his fidgety 
friends than the rush to New British Columbia set in, 
and he found his property doubling, trebling and 
multiplying in value with astonishing rapidity. 

"I was convinced in my own mind," he said, "that 
once the general public received an inkling of the possibili- 
ties of the new land of promise, a wave of prosperity would 
burst upon it. But I could not induce my friends to see 
eye to eye with me at the time. Now they are sorry 
they backed out during the general money scare. What 
is the land worth to-day? Well, it is impossible to say, 
but I should have no difficulty in obtaining £S to £4 per 
acre for that still in its virgin condition, and at that price 


could realise the whole of my possessions in next to no 
time. Prices just now are soaring rather high and fabu- 
lous amounts are being paid — prices out of all proportion 
to the value of the land changing hands. Only a few 
days ago a pioneer here netted £10 an acre for what had 
cost him only a dollar or so. This, however, is an out- 
side figure, and considering that this is untouched coun- 
try, it is too much. 

"What do I intend to do with my land? Well, I am 
developing it as fast as I can, but labour is against me. 
Most of what is already under cultivation is under hay, 
and I am putting another area under the same crop right 
away. I have just signed a contract to that effect. The 
contractors undertake to do what little clearing is neces- 
sary and to complete breaking the ground this autumn. 
Then next spring they will disk plough, seed the hay 
(timothy) ; the whole for an inclusive price of 24s. per 
acre. That is a fair price under the circumstances. Of 
course, if heavy clearing were necessary, the prices would 
be much higher, but coming in here so many years ago 
I had the time and opportunity to make a careful selec- 
tion and to secure land which is open or only lightly 
covered with poplar." 

Seeing that this pioneer had been in the country ao 
long, and had secured conclusive evidence from experi- 
ence of just what the land could and could not produce, his 
views on the agricultural possibilities of the locality are 
worth relating, 

"This will be a great mixed farming country, the 
potentialities of which it is impossible to fathom. What 
are the most remunerative crops? Well, just at the 
moment, and until the railway enters the district, there- 
by bringing valuable markets into immediate touch with 
the growers, hay and oats will enable the farmer to re- 
coup his outlay upon land within a year or two. Take 
hay, for instance. Here, owing to the high cost of 
freightage — £20 per ton from Ashcroft — this readily com- 


mands from £8 to £10 per ton. Last winter fodder ran 
up to £37 lOs. per ton, and was difficult to obtain at 
that price. I saw one of my sections which is under hay 
yesterday, and there were 500 tons of first-class timothy 
standing. Why, even wild hay grows to a height of 5 
and 5^ feet, and yields from 3 to 4 tons per acre. You 
see, when seeded to hay there is no further expense 
beyond cutting, after the first year, for there is no need 
to re-seed for ten or fifteen years. Then take oats. The 
price here at the present time is 10s. per bushel, and you 
could not get twenty bushels in the town to-day at that 
price. I am putting some 1,200 acres under oats this 
year, netting my first crop next season. 

How about mixed farming ? One of the best dis- 
tricts in the Dominion at the moment for this phase of 
agriculture, and the chances here for the British farmer, 
who from his experience in Great Britain, where he has to 
make the most of his land, knows just exactly how to 
set about the task in the most business-like manner, are 
unique, to my way of thinking. Cattle-ranching, pure 
and simple, does not pay. I have had eleven years' ex- 
perience of that game and have not drawn a single cent 
from the investment yet. But associate the stock raising 
industry with dairying, poultry farming, the cultivation 
of vegetables, cereals, and roots, and then the chances of 
making money quickly are difficult to equal elsewhere. 

"Is fruit culture profitable? Well, so far as the 
Nechaco Valley is concerned, I can emphatically say that 
it possesses great possibilities. Cherries and apples ap- 
pear to do excellently, as do also gooseberries, currants 
and general ground fruits. It has been said that the 
summer frosts are detrimental. The valleys certainly 
do suJBfer from that drawback, but it does not appear to 
react very severely on the fruit. At all events, summer 
frosts are only to be expected in any new country, but 
as the territory becomes extensively settled they will dis- 
appear, as experience in Ontario, Manitoba, and the 


other prairie provinces has exemplified abundantly. The 
ground in the dense forests, owing to the sun being shut 
out, is cold and ice-laden, but when the land is cleared, 
and the soil well broken and aerated, this disadvantage 
will not afflict the farmer any longer." 

Another little hive of activity was a small shack mea- 
euring barely 12 feet by 10, and even this diminutive 
space was subdivided. In the front part a compositor 
was busily setting type, and in a small cupboard-like 
space at the rear a young journalist, Mr. J. B. Daniells, 
was turning out "copy" with the aid of Egyptian 
cigarettes. He was in his shirt-sleeves, buried under 
a large sombrero, with a box as his desk, a jar as his 
ink-pot, a typewriter as an elbow rest, and a murderous- 
looking Browning automatic pistol as a paper weight. 
He was an alert, keen-eyed, young fellow, bred and 
reared in the Midlands, who had emigrated to Canada 
in the days of his early youth, knocked about the 
Dominion, putting his hand to anything which would 
earn a few dollars and yield experience, until he landed 
in the Cariboo district, where he settled down to control 
the local Fourth Estate. 

"Come in, you wandering Britisher," he shouted 
cheerily, and then, tilting back his chair and perching 
his doubled-up legs against his desk, he went on: 
"Cramped quarters for an editor's sanctum, eh? Well, 
I've got a new home going up — see that large frame 
building yonder? I shall be in there in a few days, and 
shall have room to stretch myself out. What's running 
a newspaper on the frontier like? Well, not so bad. If 
you're cute you can make money at it ; if you're not, you 
get landed in the ditch. I've made a good thing down in 
Cariboo, and so, when this place was launched I came 
up here. Starting a newspaper in such an out-of-the-way 
place is certainly somewhat expensive. I've sunk dG2,000 
in this enterprise, and am going to carry it through neck 
or nothing. No ! I'm not the only expression of public 


opinion. There's another paper in the new town. Does 
it pay? Well, I should smile; you wouldn't catch me 
here if it didn't," flicking the end off his cigarette. 
"Where's the revenue? Well, not in the circulation, I 
can assure you." Seeing that the combined towns in the 
vicinity boasted a population of less than 300, I readily 

"I'll tell you how money's made in this line up 
here. It's the advertisements ! " 

I looked incredulously at him. If circulation were 
impossible, the feasibility of such a small community 
soliciting trade among themselves two or three hundred 
miles from civilisation was still more visionary. He ob- 
served my lack of comprehension, and went on: 

"Guess you're a tenderfoot in western journalism, 
anyway. Look here," picking up the last issue of his 
Cariboo property. "There's so many solid pages of land 
advertisements. You see, when you stake land in British 
Columbia, according to the law you have to advertise your 
claim in the Government gazette, and also in the paper 
published nearest the locality in which the land is situate. 
The charges are regulated by law, and I can tell you when 
a land boom is raging such as is taking place about here 
at the moment, that revenue mounts up pretty respect- 
ably. In British Columbia frontier towns new organs of 
the Press don't come into existence at first for the dis- 
semination of news, but are essentially vehicles for the 
publication of land advertisements. Nobody in a new 
country bothers about what the world is doing ; but they 
are mighty anxious to find out if Jack Kobinson has 
already staked such-and-such a piece of land upon which 
they have cast covetous eyes ; or whether Tom Smith or 
Bill Jones is attempting to claim that stretch which they 
have already staked. Advertisements out here are read 
with greater avidity than the most sensational news 
ijtems. What happens when the land boom dies out? 
Oh, if you have not established yourself by the time the 


town develops, and cannot run along on the legitimate 
newspaper lines, you simply pack up your traps and hike 
with your press to the next spot which is looming big in 
the land speculation field. 

"Still, the expenses are heavy. This paper has to Be 
' kicked out ' by myself and the printer outside on a 
small handpress. His wages are an item — £40 a month. 
Guess printers on the other side don't make £10 a week. 
In my new printing-office I am setting up a larger press 
with a petrol motor drive. But it has cost me, in freight- 
age, half the price of the machine to get it here, and I 
am paying eight dollars a case for petrol — roughly 3s. 4d. 
a gallon. No, running a newspaper in the wilds is not 
all honey, but when I want a change I take this — indicat- 
ing his Browning — and that — pointing to a 22 — and go 
ofF for a ' bar.' There's plenty round here, and the 
sport relieves the worries of an editor to a mighty 

The builders of Fort George do not believe in devot- 
ing their whole lives to work, even though it does mean 
the upbuilding of a metropolis. They know the truth of 
the old adage about Jack and continuous work, so are 
resolved to avoid its stultifying influences. But amuse- 
ment has to be created. This takes the form of what 
for a better term can only be described as a "maffick," 
otherwise an outburst of exuberant spirits piled up during 
six days, to find vent on the seventh. It starts about 
dusk, and the whole town is given over to general uproar 
until the succeeding dawn. Jollification is represented 
by buck-dancing and other forms of the art in the open 
street, a raucous singing procession round the whole 
town, practical joking, the lusty chanting of the latest 
music-hall ditties woefully out of tune, cat-calls, whistling, 
and the frantic manipulation of any instrument capable 
of emitting a noise, musical or otherwise. Should any 
member of the community have been guilty of an action 
disapproved by the colony at large, the first succeeding 


"bust-up" finds him a victim. The primitive revelries 
are kept up until sheer exhaustion, or the breaking of 
dawn, compels one and all to hie to their couches, to re- 
appear the next morning ready for an allotted task as if 
nothing had happened. 

Yet Fort George was not so isolated as appeared on 
first acquaintance. A pair of copper wires drooped along 
Main Street to pull up abruptly at the baker's shop. The 
announcement "Public Telephone " arrested our civilised 
eyes. Here we could learn something of what the world 
at large was doing, for this telephone trailed sixty miles 
through the silent woods to a little cabin where it linked 
up with the single telegraph wire running from Ashcroft 
to Dawson City, not far from the Arctic circle. It was a 
handshake with civilisation contrasting vividly with the 
wild harum-scarum little colony in which we were 
planted for the time being. But the true frontiersman 
resented its intrusion. It deprived the distant town of 
that inaccessible, cut-off feeling, which he so warmly 
cherishes. He cursed that "talking wire " more furiously 
than any other newfangled notion which broke up his 
environment. The steamboat was bad enough, but that 
telephone — "it was the limit." Although months would 
elapse before the iron horse stepped in, that 'phone had 
unsettled everything. Several true old dogs of the wilds, 
who have built up many a humming town in Canada, 
were talking seriously of moving on. The great problem 
was, "Where shall we go?" and they reiterated the 
query in pitiful tones. The Klondike was as open as 
the city, New British Columbia was being unfolded to 
the public searchlight more and more every day, and 
Alaska was being surveyed ! There was only one un- 
touched virgin field in the whole North American con- 
tinent, from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson's Bay. When 
we left vibrating Fort George, these rugged old fellows 
of the bush were discussing among themselves the ad- 
visability of trekking to this pasture new ; planning ways 


and means of bringing their efforts to bear upon this 
possible field for their activity. And that field, wrapped 
in an air of wild romance and presenting a most forbid- 
ding prospect, and to reach which involved a march right 
across the Continent, was the last place in Canada — 
Ungava ! 

On the Skirts of a Bush Fire 

Sam the Packer — A Town that did not Come Off — Character of the Land 
around Fort George — A Paradise of Vegetables — A Bush Fire — 
Strange Atmospheric Effects — Danger from Falling Trees. 

Noon had sped by half an hour or so, and the summer sun 
was blazing down furiously from a cloudless sky as the 
last diamond hitch was thrown on the Fraser's banks. 
Even then we had to move out with only one packer, 
Sam by name, the other not being well enough to con- 
tinue the journey. Sam, with Mexican blood coursing 
through his veins, worked like a Trojan, and was about 
the finest exponent of his rough craft whom I en- 
countered on my journey through Canada. Well-built, 
with a constitution hardened to steel from prolonged 
roughing it, an expert horseman, possessed of giant 
strength, he was just the man for the trail and a tight 
comer, while he was even more remarkable for his 
conscientiousness. He nursed his horses, and their co- 
ordinate working was a feature that we much appre- 
ciated, for a harmonious pack-train contributes to easy, 
rapid progress. 

The life of the pack-horse is hard and monotonous 
enough, in all conscience, but so long as he is kept in 
as prime a condition as is possible with grass feeding 
in the bush, he will keep plodding along at his steady 
pace, up hill and down dale, for hour after hour. These 
animals never see an oat from one month's end to an- 
other, since the packer must make his journeys while he 
can — otherwise while the weather lasts, and no sooner 

has he safely carried one party to its destination than 



he immediately loads up and strikes off somewhere else. 
The pack train is the tramp-ship of the bush. It very 
seldom has a regular scheduled sailing between two dis- 
tinctive points, but wanders from pillar to post, some- 
times not catching a glimpse of the home port during the 
whole summer. 

As we skirted the Hudson's Bay post, having bid 
adieu to the hustling frontiersmen building up the nucleus 
of British Columbia's capital, and struck across the 
Indian reservation, we met a "hiker" coming in. 

" Whar yar hiking? " 


"Guess yar'd better turn back. See that!" point- 
ing to a thick streak of yellowish brown trailing in a 
long-drawn-out blotch in the blue August sky on the 
horizon immediately ahead. "Well, a fierce bush fire's 
raging out thar. I guess you'll never get through. It's 
right along th' trail." 

However, we determined to try our luck. Fortun- 
ately there was no wind, so that the fire could not be 
lashed into fury and make one of its characteristic sweep- 
ing rushes through the country, while should rain break 
its early extinction was inevitable. Throughout the 
whole of New British Columbia the summer had been 
one of exceptional dryness, and the dead vegetation, 
moss with which the ground is carpeted like a heavy pile, 
as well as the ground growth, was as dry as tinder, and 
flared like shavings. A drought, however, in this country 
is not likely to act detrimentally to crops, for the dews 
are heavy. We pulled over the ridge dominating the dis- 
tant town, ploughing through a soft sand and gravel 
where jack-pine grew luxuriantly. In the course of an 
hour we came into a maze of broad swathes cut through 
the forest, running at right angles to one another. We 
had entered one of the speculative tow as which had been 
born of the Fort George boom. The main avenue was a 
fine cut through the forest, its name was painted up in 


big letters, but it was an utter blank. The streets were 
there, but unfortunately the people had not been found 
who were prepared to flank the thoroughfares with sub- 
stantial buildings. The timber hotel, rapidly approaching 
completion, presented the only sign of humanity. This 
town was side-tracked badly. Whether it will ever be 
put on the rails of progress once more one cannot say. 
Canada is a country for rudely upsetting theories and 
preternaturally sage prognostications. 

We were told that practically every acre of the land 
we were now traversing had been purchased by specula- 
tors at a dollar or so an acre. We felt sorry for any fool 
who plunged here on hearsay, for while some of this land 
is of agricultural value, much is absolutely useless from 
the arable point of view, even the grass having a difficulty 
in forcing its green blades between the stones. The 
purchaser here on the strength of advertisement will 
be worse off than the plunger who buys blindly in a 
salted mine. He will not secure a rich farm nor even a 
quarry — he will simply buy one of Nature's refuse piles 
in which only the straggling roots of the jack-pine can 
find nourishment, and that only sufficient for a stunted 
growth. It is no more productive than the summit of 
Snowdon, or the glaciers of the Eockies. If anyone is 
bent on acquiring land in the vicinity of Fort George 
it is best to cruise round and make a selection on the 
spot. Land can be obtained here at 24s. an acre, such 
as it is, but it is dear at that figure. If you cannot visit 
the country, then the next best advice that can be ex- 
tended is to communicate with the British Columbia 
Government. The authorities will furnish the names 
and addresses of thoroughly trustworthy land agents, who 
can be relied upon tb give a square deal. 

Here and there within the dells sloping towards the 
waters of the Nechaco we struck rich streaks of land , the 
fertility of which passes description. For instance, a 
few miles beyond Fort George the land suddenly dipped. 


and there amid the tall, huge timber we came across 
a small patch where a settler had pluckily stripped the 
land of the trees and brought it under cultivation. About 
five acres in all were productive. Three had been given 
over to hay, the crop of which had just been gathered, 
and a fine healthy-looking stack it made — quite sufficient 
to meet the requirements of the settler's cattle during 
the coming winter. The remaining two acres had been 
planted with potatoes, and these were then in the prime 
of their growth, with large well-developed haulm which 
testified strikingly to the feeding power of the soil. The 
"murphy " is a profitable crop in Canada, since the native 
would as lief think of sitting down to a dinner from 
which potatoes were absent as the Scotsman would think 
of breakfasting without porridge. This settler had taken 
over a quarter of a section — 160 acres — but the density 
of the bush made clearing slow and tedious. Yet from 
his own account he could not quarrel with his luck. The 
previous year he had raised two acres of potatoes, and the 
crop had netted him £200. This year he was reckoning 
on as large, if not a larger financial return from the same 
source, since prices due to greater demand were higher. 
The astonishing point was that he had not tilled the 
soil. This was just a thick deposit of decayed vegetable 
matter and alluvium, for in the distant past his farm 
was at the bottom of a large lake occupying the whole 
of the depression known as the Nechaco Valley. This 
light, nourishing topsoil was so soft that one could plunge 
one's arm up to the armpit without meeting the subsoil. 
All that was necessary was to make the drills, push the 
tubers in with the fingers, bank up, and then let them 

A little farther on we came upon another settlement 
where about the same acreage was under cultivation. 
In this case the crops were of a more varied character, 
coinciding very closely with an English kitchen garden or 
mixed farm. There were patches of turnips, carrots, 


parsnips, lettuces, cabbages, and so on. The white 
turnips had grown to an immense size, those we pulled 
up ranging up to ten inches in circumference, beautifully 
solid from rind to core, and as palatable as any English- 
grown root of this species. The carrots were long, 
measuring about eighteen inches from crown to tip, well 
formed, free from woodiness or fibre, sound and of excel- 
lent colour. The parsnips seemed to be equally good, 
though those were early days to judge this root; still, 
they measured about three inches across the crown. The 
beet also were doing well. The lettuces were large and 
succulent, and though not possessing the crispness char- 
acteristic of the English variety, were yet of excellent 
flavour. The cabbages were large, the hearts well turned 
in, and of good shape. The new settler in these parts has 
certainly one advantage over his British confrere. He is 
not pestered with worms, caterpillars, and other plagues 
which wreak such havoc in the field or garden, while the 
lightness and richness of the soil conduce to remarkable 
yield with the minimum of effort, after clearing is accom- 
plished. Such land as this is pre-empted at about one 
dollar per acre, and the moment the settler commences 
to improve it the value increases ten- or twenty fold. 
The pre-emptor who had raised potatoes here had made 
sufficient from his first year's crop to defray his initial 
outlay six times over! And that from less than one- 
thirtieth of the area he had acquired ! 

The dirty yellow cloud disfiguring the sky on our de- 
parture from Fort George loomed up larger and larger 
as we advanced, until at last it spread over us like a huge 
canopy, stifling the sunlight. It recalled nothing so 
much as those peculiar smoke-fogs occasionally experi- 
enced in the English metropolis. It was early in the 
afternoon when we crept under this banner, and the 
effect was curious. The sky could not be seen for the 
smoke depending lazily about five hundred feet above us. 
Yet on the ground level the air was of virgin purity and 


clearness, one being able to see horizontally through the 
trees for a long distance. But the curious colour of the 
cloud threw everything into strange relief : the verdure 
of the trees stood out with an unnatural vividity. The 
green did not appear to be that of ^'ature, but rather of 
that tone which the inexperienced artist freely daubs 
upon his landscapes. Similarly the bark of the trees 
assumed an uncanny hue, while the lichens and mosses 
infesting the trees' outer armour were as detailed as if 
seen through a microscope. The topsy-turvy dom of 
colouring was no doubt due to the absence of that toning 
influence which sunlight and the overhead sky produce. 

As we ventured farther and farther beneath the smoky 
pall the effect became more and more weird, the topmost 
branches of the trees being bathed in green as bright as 
verdigris. No artist would credit that Nature could 
possibly assume such tints and produce such clashing 
contrasts in colour schemes. Even the grass attained 
a brightness which was entirely foreign, and when now 
and again the sunshine did contrive to struggle through 
the canopy, lighting up the sward and forest, everything 
seemed to have suddenly become deadened — the tones 
relapsed as if by magic into the characteristic softness — 
only to revert to an uncanny luminosity when the smoke 
blind was once more pulled across the sun's face. 

The effect on the waters of the Nechaco was even 
more fantastic. Under normal conditions this river, 
owing to its crystal clearness, has a hue of deep prussian 
blue, but under the smoky overhead curtain the colour 
was as if the artist in disgust had thrown all the blues 
known to his profession into the mixing pot, and had 
committed the resultant indescribable tint to his canvas. 

As we pushed into the forest we saw on every side 
smoking trails through the moss, where the fire had 
eaten its insidious way amid the dry pile carpet, while 
wicked tongues of flame betrayed the consumption of a 
more than ordinary tender morsel. Now and again there 


would be a sudden rush, accompanied by a vicious crack- 
ing and snapping. Looking towards the spot, one would 
see the flames jumping from the ground, from branch to 
branch of a dry tree, setting it aglow from top to bottom 
in a flash. The spruce tree is the food on which the 
fire feasts. Its lower branches have the life crushed out 
of them by the pressure of the thicket and hang dry and 
dead, covered with a hair-like lichen which droops down 
in thick tangled masses and is highly combustible. Then, 
again, the wood of this tree is richly resinous. When 
the fire reaches the foot of a spruce it embraces it in a 
sheet of roaring flame. 

We threaded our way between these aisles of fire for 
some two hours. It was our intention to push on as 
far as possible and camp about eight o'clock that night, 
but our plans were sadly sent to the four winds. One 
of the pack-horses took fright and bolted pell-mell towards 
Fort George with Sam in hot pursuit. It was not long 
before Sam came rumbling in with the runaway, but its 
pack showed sad evidences of the wild canter among the 

The incident delayed us considerably, and the close 
proximity of good feeding on the banks of the Nechaco 
for the horses decided us to camp there and then. We 
made a clearing in the bush, ran up the tents, and then 
went ofE for water. Anyone who has trudged for about a 
third of a mile with a couple of pails for supplies of this 
indispensable liquid can form some idea of what it means, 
but when the operation is coupled with a clamber over 
deadfall, a toil up a zigzagging steep bank a hundred 
feet high, and finally a plough through a swamp, he will 
realise that the chances of bringing back more than 
about an eighth of the contents of the pails are slender. 

At ten o'clock, although daylight had departed, we 
could still read a newspaper with little trouble owing to 
the brilliant diffused light from the fire. While we were 
discussing the prospects of our march on the morrow a 


gaunt figure was observed striding through the gloom 
towards the camp, leading his horse. 

"Pitched camp, eh? " 

"Yes. What are the chances of getting on? " 

"Pretty bad. I've turned back. There are two 
pack-trains held up with forty-four horses, and the 
packers are cutting their way through the fallen timber. 
You'll be up against it to-morrow." 

That night was the most uncomfortable we experi- 
enced on the trail. The heat was stifling, and the atmo- 
sphere within the tents became unbearable. We pegged 
up the sides so as to secure a current of such fresh air 
as there was, but it was a slight and almost imperceptibly 
beneficial measure. About three o'clock we heard the 
welcome pitter-patter of falling rain, which had the effect 
of tempering the atmosphere though it was not sufficient 
for quenching the flames. 

The next morning we pushed ahead. We were still 
hugging the south bank of the Nechaco Eiver, which 
follows a meandering course through this valley named 
after the waterway, the water rolling lazily along, with 
a sharp burst here and there as it tumbles down a sharp 
decline in the form of a rapid. 

Presently we emerged from a thicket and came upon 
the full brunt of the effects of the fire. The pack-trains 
held up the previous day had forced their way through 
successfully, but the fall of timber during the night had 
obliterated their clearing, while the trail itself was wiped 
out of existence. The ground was smoking furiously, and 
the dead trees were glowing red embers. Kiding now 
was quite out of the question. There was nothing for it 
but to walk with the horse's rein over shoulder. But 
one's feet sank into about six inches of hot ash, and they 
became uncomfortably hot in a few minutes. Axes were 
necessary to slash a way through the debris, with wind- 
ings in and out to avoid an unusually stubborn obstacle 
in the form of a fallen giant of the forest. It took us 


nearly an hour to make the first mile, and progress was 
precarious in the extreme. The hot ashes were a source 
of considerable danger to the horses, which became ex- 
tremely restive, and we kept a sharp eye on our own boots 
in case the soles gave signs of parting from the uppers 
through the stitches becoming burned or charred. 

Here and there, about a dozen yards from the trail, a 
huge fire in full blast would be discerned, presenting a 
solid phalanx of roaring, darting flame a hundred yards 
or so in width, and lapping branches a hundred feet or 
more above ground. When the flames suddenly spurted 
out with a deafening crackling and spitting, the pack- 
horses would stand stock still, fixing their eyes on the 
burning mass as if hypnotised, and could only be driven 
forward by the whip. But it was not the burning forest 
we so much dreaded, for that was on our leeside, but 
the wreckage the flames had left in their wake. The 
roots of these trees spread along the surface, drawing 
their nourishment from the top moss. As this, a kind 
of peat, was being consumed, the roots would char slowly 
until the tree, deprived of its foundation, would cant over, 
and without the slightest warning come crashing to the 
ground, unless its descent was arrested by an obstructing 
tree, when it would be held at a dangerous angle until the 
support succumbed to the insidious attack of the 
smouldering fire about its own roots, or a furious wind 
came along and swept the bending giant to the ground. 
We had one or two narrow escapes from this danger. 
The first premonition of a collapse would be a heavy 
sigh. You looked in the direction whence the sound 
proceeded, and saw a towering tree slightly heeling over. 
The question was, in which direction would it fall? 
You backed your horse well out of the way, for although 
trying to beat a falling tree is exciting, the chances are 
a hundred to one that your animal will not move quickly 
enough. Then there would be heard a snap, snap, snap, 
as if cords strained to the limit of their elasticity had 


suddenly given way, the tree would swing over with 
rapidly gathering speed, its branches crashing through 
those of its comrades, and possibly giving other decrepit 
trunks the slight push necessary to send them reeling, 
and then would come the final concussion and roar as the 
ground was struck with such force as to make it tremble. 
For about three hours we wended slowly through this 
smouldering, burning, smoking labyrinth of collapsing 
trees, all the time on tenterhooks. Then, emerging upon 
a rolling flat covered with cotton wood trees, or what is 
locally described as poplar, though it is quite distinct from 
the English tree of this name, we were once more able 
to stretch our lungs with pure invigorating air, and to 
secure a welcome increase in the pack-train's speed, 
which through the burning bush had been a mere crawl. 
About four o'clock in the afternoon we struck the junction 
of the Mud River with the Nechaco, and the flat, open 
character of this stretch of land in the angle formed by 
the rivers persuaded us to pitch camp, more especially 
as directly ahead there was another stretch of blazing 

The Nechaco Valley, the Land of Plenty 

The Mud River Valley — The Nechaco Valley — Vicissitudes of Climate — 
Disturbing a Hornet's Nest — The Land around Gluculz Lake — 
Experiences of a Pioneer — Wild Hay (Jalore — The Yukon Telegraph. 

Though the Mud or Chilako River is a sluggish water- 
way, it drains a huge tract of country. It rises in Lake 
Totuk, a small sheet of water on the eastern slope of the 
ridge which encloses the extensive Ootsa Lake district, 
the watershed of the Nechaco. The Mud River then runs 
slightly south-east for a considerable distance, its volume 
being reinforced by the surplus waters of Naltesby Lake 
and several creeks. Then it describes a sharp turn and 
takes a northerly course, following a sinuous way until 
it meets the Nechaco. 

The plateau it drains has an altitude of about 2,000 ft. , 
and has compelled the particular attention of the pre- 
emptor. If the luxuriance of the wild vegetation offers 
any criterion, then farming in this territory presents in- 
calculably attractive possibilities. The natural grasses 
grow to a tropical height and density. Sugar-cane grass 
7 ft. high, red top at 6 ft., brome grass 5^ ft., 
and wild timothy topping 5 ft., were quite common. 
The vetches also are prolific, being found in such 
dense masses as greatly to impede ready progress. 
The growth is strangely diversified. There are some 
first-class stretches of huge marketable timber; other 
land is covered with poplar and light scrub , which can be 
cleared easily; while the low-lying expanses are little 
prairies, on which the timber has been burned off, and 
are now covered with dense, dank wild hay averaging in 



yield between two and four tons per acre. Some of these 
lesser bush-infested stretches are of considerable area; 
two new-comers whom we met had staked some 3,000 
acres of excellent meadowland, about seven miles above 
the point where we camped. 

It is computed that the cream of this valley, suited 
to agriculture, aggregates about 36,000 acres, of which 
15,358 acres have been surveyed by the Government and 
are reserved for pre-emption at 4s. an acre. Whether 
fruit culture beyond bush and ground fruits will be 
possible, only experience can tell, but it is anticipated 
that tree fruits should be successful up to about 3,000 ft. 
altitude line. Wild bush-fruits flourished in profusion, 
and this fact lends colour to the belief that apples, pears, 
plums, cherries, prunes, and so forth should do equally 
well on the bench-lands. 

The Nechaco Valley proper is in reality an old lake- 
bed. The soil is a thick deposit of silt, in some places 
running to 40 ft. in depth, with a clay subsoil. The 
silt is freely impregnated with thoroughly decomposed 
vegetable substance. The rainfall is just sufficient to 
stimulate growth to perfection, the temperature is 
equable, and the climate is about the same as that pre- 
vailing in Central Europe, which is only natural, seeing 
that the latitude is about the same as that of the south 
of England. 

After leaving the Mud Kiver, we found the land 
reverting to its gravelly nature on the high ridges, and 
more or less densely covered with the interminable jack- 
pine. While the soil in these upper situations is of little 
value from the farming point of view, yet, cleared of the 
timber, it should make excellent grazing land. It can be 
cleared expeditiously and cheaply by fire, and that the 
grass will grow thickly when afforded the opportunity is 
indicated very convincingly by the rich grasses found in 
the open spaces, where the flames had already accom- 
plished their clearing work. 


British Columbia, like the homeland, is able to point 
to some strange vagaries in regard to weather; it can 
provide a taste of the four seasons within the space of 
twenty-four hours, as we found out to our cost. We had 
been travelling all day Sunday enshrouded in a damp, 
raw mist, reminiscent of Scotland, and when we reached 
the Bednesti Meadows, about three o'clock in the after- 
noon, we decided to call a halt. We pitched camp in a 
torrential downpour, for a thunderstorm broke over us 
as we entered the little flat. We toiled valiantly waist 
high in the dense, reeking bush searching for tent poles 
and firewood until the feet were immersed in water, which 
filled our top-boots and saturated us to the skin. As we 
partook of the belated midday meal with coat collars up- 
turned and the rain pouring down pitilessly, we were an 
abject-looking group ; but when the storm had expended 
its fury we built up a huge fire, and standing first with 
our backs to the blaze to dry one half of our clothes, and 
then with our faces to dry the other half, we were able 
to sit down to supper little the worse for our experience. 
It is astonishing what the human constitution will 
*^* tolerable, for not the slightest cold is ever contracted on 
the trail by turning oneself into a clothes-horse before a 
blazing fire, with clouds of steam rising from the soddened 
attire drying on your frame. 

The next morning we started off about half-past six. 
The ground was white with frost, and a dismal damp veil 
hung over everything. The air was of a rawness that 
penetrated to the very marrow, and though we were 
wrapped thickly in woollens, our teeth rattled in our 
heads. We soon got a little excitement, which had the 
effect of stirring up the horses, for the leader of the train 
stumbled into a hornet's nest. The enraged yellow 
jackets poured out to the fight in battalions, and in less 
than half a minute there was a wild kicking and plunging 
in all directions. Collision with a wasp's stronghold will 
liven a pack-train up more effectively than anything. 


The animals plunged, reared, and commenced bucking 
with the greatest spirit, and, ignoring their loads, started 
off on a spirited canter which quickened our circulations 

About ten in the morning the mist lifted somewhat, 
only to let down a cold penetrating rain, which persist- 
ently drove into our faces. Miniature waterfalls were 
coursing down everyone's neck, for the branches of the 
tall scrub deposited their small pools of water inside the 
collar of the slicker. After an hour's steady downpour 
there was another change to heavy hail, which brought 
about an almost complete closing of the eyes. This bom- 
bardment continued for about three-quarters of an hour, 
and then gave way to a lighter fusillade of sleet, ultimately 
reverting to rain. The slickers only kept the upper half 
of the body partially diy, and soon everyone slipped off 
the saddle and endeavoured to restore some semblance 
of life to numbed limbs by vigorous walking. Our 
miseries were completed about two o'clock by a downfall 
of snow — and this on the 22nd of August ! That sudden 
preliminary taste of winter completed our discomfiture, 
and reaching a small depression void of trees, so quak- 
ing with the cold that we could not feel our limbs, we 
decided to go no farther, especially as the weather was 
beginning to affect the horses. 

Fires were quickly kindled, and in their welcome blaze 
we discussed steaming cups of tea and hot bacon and 
beans as best we could in the teeth of the driving snow 
and sleet, roasting and steaming like basted joints on 
the one side and freezing on the other. Our bedding was 
wet and cold, and the ground was very like a marsh, but 
rolling ourselves up as best we could, that night we slept 
the sleep of the tired and jaded travellers we were. 

When we awoke the next morning the canvas tent 
was frozen as solid as a deal board : the thermometer 
showed six degrees of frost ! But the clerk of the weather 
evidently felt for us ; considered that one day's experience 


of what British Columbia could offer in the way of climatic 
variation was quite sufficient for tenderfeet from the East. 
This morning the sun burst over us in brilliance from a 
cloudless sky, though the air had a crisp touch that be- 
hoved one to keep moving. In the distance, through 
the trees, we could see a silvery sheet of water — 
Gluculz Lake, the northern bank of which we were soon 

We had now reached an elevated plateau ; the country 
was for the most part dull and uninteresting, as it de- 
manded clearing, though round Gluculz Lake we saw 
numerous traces of industry, in the form of cleared 
stretches and shacks of aggressive newness. The timber 
around this sheet of water was large and valuable , but only 
what was required on the spot by the settler was being put 
to advantage, the other being destroyed with the useless 
scrub. On the higher levels the country was more open, 
having been ravaged by the flames years back, and such 
tracts would not be difficult to bring under the plough or 
to utilise for grazing purposes — preferably the latter, 
owing to their exposed positions. 

Here and there could be seen evidences of upland re- 
clamation in the form of cocks of wild hay. We rode 
across one ranch — through missing the trail — where a fine 
yield of natural growth was stacked. There appears to 
be no need for the pioneer to have any anxiety as to 
food for his stock during winter in view of these bounteous 
wild supplies, effort being confined merely to the cutting 
and gathering of the succulent, tall, well-developed 
grasses. Taken on the whole, however, such patches 
are few and far between, and these highlands, if exploited 
at all, will be valuable commercially for little else than 
ranching, though as such they will be of assistance to the 
mixed farmer raising his miscellaneous vegetable and 
cereal produce in the lowlands. The country is a series 
of low ridges between the Eockies on the east and the 
Cascades or coast range on the west, separated by broad 



valleys. It is these vales which will prove the making of 
the settlers, for below an altitude of about 3,000 ft. any 
description of agricultural produce which can be raised in 
Great Britain can be grown with thrice or five times the 
yield per acre. The broad benches or terraces are adapted 
from every point of view to the culture of fruit, having a 
southern and westerly aspect, with excellent natural pro- 
tection against the north and east. 

About forty miles out from Fort George we met a 
pioneer in the thick of his work of development, and as 
his case is typical of what one has to face in the interior 
of British Columbia, his experiences and results are worth 
recounting. His was a stretch of rather thickly timbered 
land, with trees of relatively small girth and height. 
This settler had taken over half a section — 320 acres — 
at 4s, per acre. The timber was useless, so what he did 
not require for fencing he simply burned to get rid of 
it. He had only succeeded in clearing a few acres, 
which were ample for his necessities at this time, though 
he was extending his stretch of arable land in anticipation 
of a keener demand for produce arising from the coming 
of tTie Grand Trunk Pacific construction armies. There 
were one or two little flats on his land under wild hay, 
and he had cropped 30 tons, which he could sell readily at 
£10 per ton, if disposing of the whole in bulk. But he 
refused to sell in this manner, preferring to peddle it 
out in small doles to all and sundry who required fodder, 
in this way making about 50 per cent, more per ton. He 
had a field of oats, somewhat thin it is true, but first 
year's sowing, and tolerably well filled in the ear 
considering that he had sown the crop rather late. 
The remainder of his ground was under mixed vege- 
tables. His onions, potatoes, cabbages, lettuces, carrots, 
and so forth were very finely matured and healthy, the 
summer frosts having done no serious damage to his 

This pioneer was finding a ready market for his pro- 


duce among the camps engaged in the building of the 
Government roads, in which work is now very active 
in this district, a wagon road having been slotted from 
Fort George to Stoney Creek. His spring onions readily 
commanded 5d, per lb., with carrots at about the same 
figure. He had built a roomy shack, in which he dwelt 
with his wife and three children. His one complaint was 
the expense of sawn lumber, which had to be hauled 
from a long distance, the local supplies being of no value 
for such purposes even if he had been possessed of facili- 
ties to cut it up. The nearest town was Quesnel, 125 
miles south, and there he had to journey periodically to re- 
stock his commissariat with flour, sugar, tea and the 
like. He had brought in some stock, and had also con- 
trived to secure some agricultural implements. On a 
little calculation he considered that it had cost him 
i6400 to establish his position. The household expenses 
of himself and family averaged about £160 per 
annum, and he was easily making ends meet. The 
day before our arrival, for instance, he had sold 
a calf for £20. 

In his expenditure of about £S per week the high cost 
of provisions, of course, figured very prominently. His 
land had cost him less than £100 all told, and with the 
improvements he had effected its capital value at the time 
of our visit was approximately £2,500, on a modest com- 
putation. That this is no outside figure was proved by 
the experience of another settler not far distant who had 
acquired 160 acres at 4s. an acre, and who, almost before 
he had commenced improvements, had sold out for 
£1,000. In other words, he had netted a clear profit of 
over £960 on capital outlay. Such is the way land has 
jumped up in value in the Nechaco Valley. When eventu- 
ally the railway traverses the territory the increase in 
price will be still more marked. The settler first referred 
to was not particularly disposed to sell. He was living 
cheaply without drawing on his capital except for 


improvements in the way of implements and stock, and 
even in his own very limited market was getting a good 
showing on the right side of his profit-and-loss account. 
When the railway opens up the country, while his 
produce will not command such high prices as prevail at 
present, there will be a greater inducement to extend 
development to supply the wider market that will be 

In the summer, when the land was apt to become 
parched on the surface, this settler satisfied the thirst 
of his crops from a creek winding through his land. Such 
irrigations, though not imperative, owing to the latent 
moisture in the soil, yet repay amply the labour expended, 
and make an appreciable difference in the quality of 
the crops. 

We continued our way westwards, moving through a 
gently broken country ripe for development, silently 
calling the settler with its profusion of wild hay in the 
dales, and growing tall grasses among the poplar scrub. 
The Canadian says that where * ' four inches of grass will 
grow, wheat will grow, and where wheat can be raised 
any produce will thrive." In face of this enunciation the 
Nechaco Valley, with its wild hay topping five feet, 
should be a land of plenty. 

We had gained the top of a hillock. Masses of 
poplar, willow, and open patches surrounded us. But 
there, in the middle distance, was a shimmering, irregular 
blotch on the prevailing green. We hustled our horses 
and in a few minutes were among the bushes fringing 
Tsinkut Lake. But a more conspicuous feature com- 
pelled our attention. Just above our heads trailed across 
the azure of the sky a thin, dull-grey thread, festooning 
regularly along the trail through the forest. We could 
not suppress a strange thrill. We were shaking inani- 
mate hands with civilisation stretching in an unbroken 
line from Vancouver to the far north, threading dense 
forests, jumping wild ravines, spanning roaring rivers. 


climbing and dropping over lofty storm-, rain-, and snow- 
swept mountains, until at last Dawson City is gained. 
It is a slender link, bringing isolated, distant Klondike 
into direct touch with the restless throbbing pulses of the 
world as surely as London is connected with New York 
— the Yukon telegraph. 

The Domain of the Red Indian 

Ifi Barge and his Abortive Enterprise — After Many Days — The Stoney 
Creek Indians and their Ways — Telegraph Cabins — An Operator's 
Experience as an Agriculturist — Profitable Crops — Tachick Lake — 
Salmon Trout — A Yankee who Prefers British Columbia to Dakota 
— " Game Preserving " — Vital Lefort — Fort Fraser. 

That aerial spider's line recalled a romance of human 
endeavour which was derailed from the path of progress. 
When conceived it was a colossal enterprise, and had it 
succeeded it would have furnished one of the most fascin- 
ating chapters in the history of the telegraph. 

A bright mind conceived the idea of linking New 
York with London overland in the early 'sixties. The 
promoters of the Atlantic Cable were grappling with the 
difficulties attending that audacious undertaking, which 
was regarded generally as impossible of successful 
realisation. The overland telegraph line, however, was 
considered as perfectly feasible, although it entailed 
penetration of the wildest, most forbidding and most 
inhospitable country on the surface of the globe. Still, 
it was well supported commercially, and the task was put 
in hand. Succinctly described, it involved the construc- 
tion of a single wire from a junction with the telegraphic 
network spreading over the United States, northwards 
through New Caledonia — now known as New British 
Columbia — and Alaska to a convenient point on Behring 
Straits, connecting with a short length of submarine 
cable spanning that narrow neck of water to gain the 
Russian shore. The line was to run thence across hun- 
dreds of miles of bleak tundra and the terrible steppes 



of Siberia to the Ural Mountains, and after entering 
Europe to join up with the general continental tele- 
graphic system. 

The progenitor of this tremendous task, Le Barge, 
started out boldly with a small band of men in the 
spring of 1867. They blazed their way through the bush 
with a compass, lopping a path through the trees a few 
feet in width, down the centre of which they set up the 
line. They had run through lower British Columbia, 
had crossed the Skeena Eiver, and were buried among 
the dizzy snow-swept mountains from which that water- 
way takes its name, enduring untold privations, breaking 
down tremendous difficulties foot by foot, and at last 
had reached Telegraph Creek, about 800 miles north of 

The small gang was busily at work. Round them were 
stacked piles of wire and other bulky impedimenta neces- 
sary to the task. Suddenly there flashed up the strand 
the news that the Atlantic Cable had been laid, and was 
working satisfactorily. The bridging of the Atlantic 
sealed the doom of the overland wire. The men threw 
down their tools there and then, saddled their pack- 
horses, and, leaving everything just as it was, bade adieu 
to the enterprise and retraced their footsteps to the south ! 
So ended abruptly one of the most daring undertakings 
ever fostered by commerce, and just how much money 
was lost over the undertaking only those immediately 
concerned can relate. Had that line gone a few hundred 
miles farther north before its progress was stopped, the 
story of British Columbia might have been written differ- 
ently, for it was plotted to pass right through the aurifer- 
ous Klondike, and there is not the slightest doubt but 
that the men engaged in construction would have struck 
the yellow metal. As it was, the line was simply aban- 
doned. The country traversed was quite untenanted, and 
no one dreamed that it had before it a prosperous future. 
The line draped through the bush mournfully until the 


poles rotted and brought it to the ground. For thirty 
years or so it lay forgotten by all but a few. 

Then came the Klondike rush. The extreme isola- 
tion of the gold country demanded some connection with 
civilisation, and the Dominion Government determined to 
chain it up by telegraph. An overland line was decided 
upon, and the path was to follow that of the ill-starred 
enterprise of '67. Bands of men were dispatched to 
various points in the spring of 1900 to carry out con- 
structional work simultaneously, and if they could find 
traces still extant of the old trail, they were to follow 
it. The swathe which Le Barge cut through the forest 
was easily discovered, cleared and widened, and down the 
centre a new wire was erected. Traces of the former 
enterprise were found over the whole distance between 
Vancouver and Telegraph Creek, the disbanded stores and 
supplies at the latter point being found rusting in the 
ditch. Many of the men who assisted in the building of 
the second line obtained interesting mementoes of the 
original project, which they showed me, while all along 
the trail could be seen ends of wire projecting from the 
ground, it having become buried under rotting vegeta- 
tion. Here and there small coils were unearthed, and 
to-day when the line men require some wire for staying 
poles of the existent line, they pull up strands of the old 

We were now in the land of the Indian. The red 
man of to-day is the most inoffensive specimen of 
humanity breathing. That he has degenerated from the 
types roaming these territories a century ago there is 
not the slightest doubt. As a hunter he cannot be com- 
pared with his prototypes ; as a fighter he has sunk to 
insignificance ; as a member of the community he is most 
law-abiding and peaceable. The war-paint, feathers, 
scalps, and other fiendish decorations have disappeared 
in favour of European habiliments. He still retains his 
abilities for finding his way through impenetrable coun- 































try, is fleet of foot, possessed of great stamina, is a keen 
hunter, but withal a lazy lout. If you want to see the 
true Indian of history and romance you must go farther 
north — to the wilder parts of the country where the white 
man yet has to set his feet. 

Tsinkut Lake is a picturesque sheet of water in the 
midst of a wonderfully fertile country. On the farther 
side we could see many a new gash in the mass of trees, 
testifying to the recent arrival of a settler. Cultivation 
here will not be a difficult matter, though clearing is 
a stupendous task. This country should be avoided at 
all costs by the English settler who is not possessed of an 
indomitable spirit, is not prepared to toil from dawn 
to dusk for a time, and would be oppressed by an extreme 
of isolation. If he is half-hearted he will come a cropper, 
develop into a "calamity howler " of the first water, give 
up his holding and return, "knocking " the country right 
and left. But "roughing it " brings its own reward ; the 
persevering settler earns an ample return for the sweat 
of his brow. I met more than one English settler in the 
district who had made his way to this country with 
infinite difficulty, had settled down to hard work, and 
could point to a blossoming garden where a few months 
previously towering trees and dank bush had held undis- 
puted sway. 

"How's the railway getting on? What's Fort George 
like? When will the Grand Trunk Pacific be here?" 
were questions rattled at us whenever we met a settler. 
On the whole, there was no complaint about isolation. 
The British Columbia Government, with its characteristic 
go-ahead policy, was advancing in the van of the line, 
cutting wide roads through the bush to afford access to 
different points. We found this work in active progress, 
and somehow there is a certain feeling of relief at the 
sight of a wide regular cleavage through the forest which 
has been cut by human hands. It dispels the impression 
of inaccessibility and remoteness. The men on this work 


receive a wage of 7s. 6d. per day, out of which, however, 
they have to board themselves. During the year 1910, 
apprehending a rush to the Nechaco Valley, the Govern- 
ment started work early in the season, and spent £12,000 
on new highways through this part of the bush alone. 

The Indians have a large village at Stoney Creek. 
We rode through a rolling expanse of poplar scrub, wild 
weeds and grasses. Presently a rude fence stretching 
through the wood betokened our entry to private property, 
and we soon had a striking instance of the red man's 
emulation of the white man's methods, for at the gate- 
way a printed notice informed us that pack-trains would 
be charged so much a head for their horses if they camped 
within the "rancheree." 

The mention of this word brings to mind a little dis- 
play of social distinction even in the bush. The moneyed 
agriculturist, boasting a town house in Vancouver, refers 
to his up-country farm, or estate, as his "raunch." The 
pre-emptor, when speaking of his quarter or half -section , 
uses the ordinary English pronunciation of "ranch." But 
the Indian must use neither. There must be a broad 
line of demarcation between white and red, impossible of 
confusion through pronunciation, and consequently by 
means of this afi&x the Indian's possession is termed a 

The Stoney Creek Indian reservation is a territory on 
which the white man might cast envious eyes. It is one 
of the finest stretches of agrarian land in the whole of 
New British Columbia. The pre-emptor and native is 
loud in his wailings against the Indians' good fortune, for 
the greater part of the reservation is rolling and open 
land, consisting, in fact, of respectably sized prairies 
which could be brought under cultivation with the mini- 
mum of trouble and expense. But the Indian is an in- 
different agriculturist. Possibly here and there he has a 
small potato patch, the tubers, after being planted in a 
primitive manner, being left to their own devices until 


the time to dig comes round. The oat- or wheatfield is the 
same — patchy and thin — the kind of crop the English 
farmer would plough in with disgust. The rest of the 
land is used for grazing, and on this the cayouses are 
turned loose to feed. 

The pack-train, on its way round Tsinkut Lake, 
divided ; we reached the village in advance and decided 
to await the arrival of the main body. Killing time in 
an Indian reservation is the most difficult operation ex- 
tant. Tumble-down shacks from which exudes a noisome 
aroma compel you to keep a safe distance ; the general 
neglected appearance of the homes is depressing; the 
slattern klootches would disgrace a city slum. The lean, 
hungry huskies prowl and sneak around as if bent on 
securing a bite of the fleshy parts of your anatomy at 
the most opportune moment. Sloth is printed indelibly 
on everything, and one feels somewhat inclined to give 
the well-built red-man, lolling about in the shade smoking 
his pipe, half-dazed with some brutal alcoholic brew 
which he has concocted and imbibed freely, a good sound 
kick for allowing the land about to run to seed, too in- 
dolent even to scratch its surface. The klootches spend 
their time gathering sugar plums — ottalahs or saskatoons 
— a wild fruit which grows luxuriantly, and from which 
they make an evil-looking preserve, in appearance some- 
what of a cross between stick-jaw and boot black- 
ing, persistently trying to foist it on white visitors ! 
The only sign of decency about the whole place 
is the church, which gleams brightly in the sun- 
light ; this the natives have to keep in apple-pie 
order under threat of dire punishment from the priest. 
He knows the Indians and their indolent ways, and when 
the news reaches Stoney Creek that he is coming, the 
whole colony is galvanised into unwonted activity. The 
men set to work and toil hard, while the klootches 
smarten themselves up for "his honour's" arrival. The 
moment he has turned his back on the place they lapse 


into their former semi-hibernating condition. The 
Stoney Creek Indians are members of the extensive 
Si wash tribe, but we learned afterwards that they were 
the laziest set in the whole family. I quite believe it. 

The main part of the pack-train encamped in the 
reservation on the waters of Lake Noolki, nestling in 
a wide basin of which the low Telegraph Eange forms 
the southern rim. But we had scarcely pitched our 
camp when up came the "chief." He demanded his rent 
for grazing the pack-train in advance. This matter was 
rather abruptly handled by one of the party who had 
spent many years among these folk and knew their ways, 

"Does Indian ever pay white man for camping on 
white man's ground? " 

"Indian no pay for feeding horses ! " 

"Well, then, ' beat,' " waving his hand. "Indian no 
get money here." 

The chief immediately started off on some incoherent 
rambling and muttering, but our spokesman cut him short 
by telling him to go to blazes. Instead, the chief squatted 
down before the fire and looked at us in stoical silence, 
puffing vigorously at his pipe. We smoothed down his 
feelings of ruffled dignity by inviting him to supper. No 
further claims for rent were made, although our stay was 
longer than anticipated, since during the night our pack- 
horses chummed-up with the Indians' cayouses, and the 
whole lot could not be found next day, for the reserva- 
tion stretches over a pretty good expanse of territory. 

Perched up on a small hill behind us was a little cabin. 
This was the lonely residence of the telegraph men. 
It was merely a log shack divided into a small kitchen, 
living-room, and a box-like sleeping space, with the in- 
strument standing on a table between the bunks, as these 
men have to be on the alert day and night to answer the 
call of the ghosts speaking to them from the great be- 
yond. The sleeping quarters are reduced in dimensions 
to make room for a small office where postal business is 


transacted, for outside, displayed prominently, are the 
magic initials "G.K." Letters are delivered and col- 
lected about once in eighteen days, the postman having a 
round of 250 miles or so. 

The telegraph cabins are long distances apart ; that to 
the south was at Bobtail, a matter of forty miles, while 
the one in the opposite direction was at Fraser Lake, 
about thirty-five miles distant. Two men are stationed 
at each cabin — one as operator, the other as linesman, 
the latter' s duty being to keep the wire on his section in 
repair. The length of the section varies according to 
the distance between cabins, but he is held responsible 
for half the span between his and the next station on 
either side — in this instance some twenty miles on the 
south and about seventeen miles on the north. The re- 
sult is that he is rarely at home, for the line is constantly 
in need of an overhaul. 

The operator, Mr. J. W. Millan, had spent some years 
up in this country among the Siwashes, and was 
thoroughly familiar with the agricultural possibilities of 
the district, seeing that he had devoted his spare time and 
income as operator (£15 per month with all found) in 
purchasing available land in the locality, until now he 
could point to a total possession of about 800 acres, pur- 
chased on the average at about 4s. an acre. The land 
he had taken over was thickly covered with tall poplar 
and dense willow undergrowth. This had been cleared 
first by driving a fire through the mass in the usual 
manner, followed by stump removal. With poplar, if 
the trees are not too large, this is an easy task, since the 
roots are mostly surface, but the more matured trees have 
a long tap-root which renders stump-pulling somewhat 
more arduous. 

"My great difficulty," he explained, "is getting in 
machinery. The freightage is so high that a settler can- 
not afford it. Anyone coming in here now must makp 
ends meet until the arrival of the railway, within the next 


two years. The thing is to raise just enough to keep one 
rolling along comfortably for the time being. 

"I have at the present moment ten acres under oats. 
The yield per acre varies from thirty-five to sixty-five 
bushels. Taking an average of fifty bushels per acre, 
which is fair, this represents 500 bushels. I can get 
3d. a pound for this grain on my ranch, and at 8s. 6d. 
per bushel that represents a sum exceeding £200. Then 
this year I have cropped five tons of hay per acre. This 
is worth to-day £12 per ton, which, less £2 per ton for 
labour in cutting and stacking, leaves me a net profit of 
£10 per ton." 

It will thus be seen that the pre-emptor can recoup 
his initial outlay upon the land very easily. Lest £12 
per ton for hay may be considered an absurd price, it 
may be mentioned that during the winter of 1909-10 hay 
at Hazelton was fetching £20 per ton, and Alaskan hay 
was doled out in handfuls at lOd. per pound — over £93 
per ton in round figures. Of course, such fancy prices 
will obtain only until the completion of the railway. 

There is another point in the settler's favour. If land 
will give, under primitive farming conditions, fifty bushels 
of oats per acre, it can be made to give much more when 
it becomes possible to cultivate scientifically with the 
aid of proper implements. Such land as Millan holds, so 
he said, he would not sell for less than £7 to £8 per acre, 
and when railway communication is established through 
the district — and it will pass within easy distance of his 
farm — his 800 acres, which have cost him less than £200 
all told, will be worth, and will readily command, several 
thousand pounds. 

Other pioneers in this district are working diligently 
to ascertain just what the land will do, so that at the 
opportune moment they can launch out on an extensive 
scale and specialise in that branch of agriculture which 
will net the highest returns. All are experimenting, as 
it were. One, a Chinaman, had a penchant for market 


gardening, raising all kinds of vegetables. Johnny is the 
most persevering farmer one can find or ever desire to 
meet. He carries out his work in a methodical fashion, 
and is shrewd in his operations. This particular Celestial 
had raised celery, which to Stoney Creek was like 
asparagus in the tenement district of a city. But no 
pioneer we had met so far could tell us whether or not 
celery could be raised. Johnny had observed this defici- 
ency, and had laid his plans accordingly. We heard that 
his bed of celery was a splendid sight, which he was 
rightly regarding with great pride. 

Another pioneer has seeded his holding to alfalfa, 
which is a highly profitable crop. The district was 
considered to be too far to the north to permit of its 
remunerative culture. This man, however, threw 
theories to the winds, and set out to determine the matter 
for himself. His industry was most handsomely re- 
warded, for he had cropped four times in the year. This 
was a new development, which testified in a striking 
manner to the amazing fertility of the soil and the con- 
geniality of the climate, while it had sent the value of 
that pioneer's land to high-water mark, it being easily 
worth £20 per acre. 

Across the lake could be seen a ranch in the initial 
stages of development. The pre-emptor was an Austra- 
lian who had spent his life in the grain-growing districts 
of the Antipodes, but family reasons had compelled him 
to exchange the back-blocks of Australia for the back- 
woods of New British Columbia. He had established 
himself firmly, having secured the loan of a home Millan 
had built, but did not require, until he could erect his 
own shack, this courtesy enabling him to devote his whole 
attention to the cultivation of his land. We saw him 
reaping his grain with a hand sickle. For the first year's 
growth it was highly promising, being moderately thick 
and fairly tall, and it had ripened excellently. In every 
case we met of settling in this country there was a 


healthy race between the pre-emptor and the railway 
builders. The former wanted their possessions ship- 
shape by the time the iron horse got within measurable 
distance, for from that day their prosperity was assured. 

We were by no means sorry to get away from the 
unsalubrious environment of the Siwashes, though we 
could not shed their company entirely, as we were travers- 
ing the heart of their country. Four miles beyond 
Stoney Creek we entered a smaller village, Laketown, 
sloping down to the waters of Noolki Lake, which was 
nothing else but a small pocket edition of the larger re- 
servation upon which we had encamped. Here, however, 
a white man had struck out a line of business for him- 
self. He had established a store, which we visited for 
the replenishment of supplies. The shack was crammed 
from roof to floor with articles of every description, for 
the man was driving a fur-bartering trade in opposition 
to the Hudson's Bay Post, a few miles farther on, as 
well as straight selling. There were about 300 Siwashes 
among his customers. This trader was "making good" 
to a pronounced extent. His store and cache were 
packed, but he had to restock four times in the course of 
a year. Five hundred pounds had been sent to the bank 
as the result of a single month's trading, and the fort- 
night before we arrived the turnover had been equal to 

Leaving Laketown we missed the trail, owing to a 
little accident which I need not pause to recount. Pre- 
sently we struck an Indian trail, and were soon in a 
maze of these inches-wide pathways, which cross and 
recross in all directions. But keeping the sun steadily 
on the same hand we plodded on deeper and deeper into 
the forest, until Tachick Lake was gain**d, when we 
turned sharply, and reached the north-western end. Here 
we pitched camp near a pre-emption, the owners of which 
were away, leaving the dog in charge, and he was mount- 
ing faithful guard over the entrance. 


While the pack-train was loading up for resumption 
of the journey early the next morning, we spied a dug-out 
spinning over the lake towards us, and the agitation of 
the water showed that the oarsman was having some fine 
sport. When he pulled in he held up his prize, and 
yelled: "Say, fren's, what d'yar think o' this? Bully, 
ain't it, eh?" displaying a fine, sleek, rainbow-coloured, 
glittering mass of scales. A silver salmon trout he called 
it, and it was a beauty, turning the scales at 3 lb. "I 
come out ev'ry mornin' befar breakfast an' hook one of 
these," he went on. ''Why, thar lake's full o' them. 
Say, come an' have a throw? " 

Lett grabbed up his line and a stick to form an im- 
promptu rod, ours having been left behind on the Little 
Smoky River. The dug-out was soon pulling towards the 
centre of the lake with the troll out. Presently we saw 
a vicious tug, and an instant later there was a bright 
flash in the air as the fish made a leap of about ten feet. 
The fighting and plunging went on for about ten minutes, 
and then the dug-out came in with a sharp shoot with 
another quivering specimen lying in the bottom. When 
weighed it tipped the beam at 3 J lb., and they were two as 
fine specimens of the trout family as one could desire to 
land. Our American visitor said they were "fair devils " 
when hooked, and would often jump clean over the canoe, 
while their rushes made the pike's movements a mere 
tortoise crawl in comparison. Lett confessed that his 
catch had given him a lively five minutes, accustomed 
though he was to all classes of fish found in Canadian 
river waters. 

Our affable American informed us that he had taken 
over a section — a square mile — on the shore of this 
lake, and that his son had bought a like area of land just 
near us. "I came up hyar last year, and I war so impressed 
with th' country that I'm goin' to make it my home. I 
guess this is just about God's country right enough ! My 
wheat farms are down in Dakota, but I'll clear out down 


thar, because I can't tear myself away from this spot. 
Is the land good? Well, I should smile! You would 
not catch me clearing the forest if it warn't. How about 
winter? Well, last winter I worked about in my shirt- 
sleeves. It's not near so cold as it is down Dakota way ; 
we didn't have two feet of snow. 

"I'm not goin' to spend another winter in Dakota 
yet awhile. You bet yar Hfe. I'm fixin' up a huntin' 
camp up in th' hills for th' winter. Talk about sport ! 
Why, yar can get just so much as yar like. One day my 
wife, son, a friend, and myself went down to Noolki Creek, 
which runs into Noolki Lake, and landed 135 pounds 
of trout in two hours. They war the primest fish yar 
ever clapt eyes on. We used salmon eggs for bait; 
they're bully for trout. What did we do with them? 
We just cleaned them, opened them up like a kipper, 
salted them down, and during the winter we had trout 
just when we wanted it, and when they could not be 
caught for love or money." 

He also enlightened us as to the way they coped with 
their heavy bags of geese, ducks, and other w^ildfowl 
which teem in their thousands in the season on the waters 
of Tachick, Noolki, and Tsinkut lakes, and are brought 
down by the score. They are plucked and dressed ; then 
boiled with spices until the flesh leaves the bones. The 
latter are removed and the flesh, now a pulp, is allowed 
to cool, the liquid solidifying into a jelly. Then the mass 
is pressed into muslin bags, and in that condition the 
food will keep for weeks in the cold weather, without the 
slightest deterioration, and steaming broth or boiled wild- 
fowl can be prepared at a minute's notice. 

Diverging from the lake, we once more struck to the 
higher country, passing through land of great promise 
as pasturage for cattle, even if actual cultivation were 
not practised. It is the diversity of the country, owing 
to its configuration, which is such a predominant feature, 
for there seems an equal opening for all phases of 


agriculture, where even the fool at the game can hope to 
realise some measure of profit and success. We emerged 
from the denser scrub on to an undulating plateau, which 
was tolerably open, having been ravaged evidently by 
fire in days gone by; here the grazing was magnificent, 
the land shelving gradually to the level of the Nechaco, 
which was lolling sluggishy along, twisting and doubling 
in the most fantastic manner. 

It was, about noon on Sunday when we came to a 
straight cut through the poplars, down which ran the 
telegraph wire to the river's banks. The descent was 
for more than a mile, and so easy as to be almost imper- 
ceptible. At the bottom of the dip the trail gave a sharp 
wind and w^e were on the river. At the sound of our horse's 
hoofs a keen-eyed , taciturn , wrinkled little fellow emerged 
from his shack, and in broken English inquired how many 
horses were to cross. He was the operator of the ferry 
across the Nechaco, and he led us to the strange craft 
whereby the road is continued in a moving rectangle 
across the river. This ferryman is one of the most re- 
markable personalities in British Columbia — Vital Lefort 
— and it was hard to believe, as he trudged determinedly 
along and manipulated the ferry across the slowly moving 
water, that he had long since passed the allotted span of 
man's life. 

There is no man in the fa^r western province of the 
vast Dominion who is more the personification of history 
than Vital Lefort. He came from Eastern Canada when 
but a lad, and his life is one long unbroken chapter of 
fascinating romance. What his baptismal name is, no 
one knows, but the Indians, with their quaint aptitude, 
called him le fort vital, meaning, "the strong life," and 
this became twisted round into Vital Lefort. Many are 
the endeavours that have been made to sound his depths, 
but without avail, though his very, very few intimate 
acquaintances, one of whom I met, related that occasion- 
ally he becomes reminiscent. Vital Lefort was the first 


man ever to penetrate the interior of British Columbia, 
as a young man was in the van of Le Barge's construction 
party when that ambitious project, the Overland Tele- 
graph, was launched, blazed the trail as far north as Tele- 
graph Creek, and was the last to leave when the material 
was thrown into the ditch to rust. He was one of the 
first, if not the first, to find gold in the country, and the 
rush that ensued resulted in the creek where the strike 
was made becoming known as Vital Creek. He has 
passed the whole of his life in the wilds ; but talk he will 
not. He is as silent as the sphinx. He dwells in his 
shack, but a few feet square, on the southern bank of the 
Nechaco ; he lives by the fare he collects from travellers 
crossing the river. And he appears to be the embodiment 
of content. Fortunes have slipped through his hands, 
for one of his friends told me that when the gold rush 
at Vital Creek was at its height, he simply squatted on 
his claim and made no endeavours either to prove its 
worth, or to sell to others, though others round him 
cleaned up big "wads." 

Through a wide V in the trees, caused by the river 
channel, we espied the white walls of the Hudson's Bay 
post, Fort Fraser, no longer surrounded by a stockade, 
this evidence of a strenuous past having been sent to 
oblivion. Soon we were treading its solid wooden hall, 
where the traveller is warmly hailed, for a Hudson's Bay 
post in the interior is a hostelry in the wilds, where one 
and all are sure to receive a hearty welcome. 

Through the Endako Valley 

The Coldest Point in the Nechaco Valley — The Lake Stuart Country — Fort 
St. James — The Fraser Lake Region — Another Lidian Settlement — 
A Rancher's Home — Education in the Bush — An Equine Nurse — 
A Settler's " Lucky Strike " — The Indian Way of Bargaining— A 
Vigorous Centenarian — A Lineman's Life — Looking for Trouble and 
Finding it — Colliding with a Telegraph Post — Bums Lake and its 

This old Hudson's Bay post stands at the eastern end of 
Fraser Lake, named after the famous explorer, at an 
elevation of about 2,250 ft. Locally it is regarded 
as the coldest point in the Nechaco Valley, to which the 
ridge it stands upon forms the northern boundary. 
Certainly the air even in August was very keen. The 
outflow from the lake, which is about fifteen miles long, 
joins the river just below the fort. The Nechaco at this 
point makes one of those sudden, big, sweeping bends for 
which British Columbia rivers are famous, the source of 
the waterway being on the slopes of the distant rugged 
Cascades fringing the Pacific coast, and draining in all 
an immense tract of country, of which about 640,000 acres 
are arable. 

The old trading post has weathered nearly a hundred 
years, during which time it has changed its position from 
one side of the lake to the other about three times. In 
the courtyard stands the primitive wooden device which 
still serves to press the furs into bales for shipment as 
it did when the fort was first established. Forty miles 
or so to the east is Lake Stuart, with another post. Fort 
St. James, at its south-eastern corner; and the country 
between the two trading centres and immediately around 



Lake Stuart offers great attractions for agriculture. I 
met one or two pioneers who had been cruising through 
this territory, and who had made Fort Fraser on their 
return journey to the south. Their reports were glowing, 
and they were emphatic in the opinion that it is im- 
possible to exaggerate the agrarian potentialities of the 
Lake Stuart country. 

The whole of this interior forms a huge plateau, with 
but slight variations in altitude. Thus, Cheslatta Lake, 
to the west, is at 2,900 ft., the land thence falling away 
gently to Fraser Lake and dropping still more easily to 
Stuart Lake, which lies at an altitude of 2,200 feet. 
This latter country, extending from Fraser Lake to the 
eastern side of Stuart Lake, is richly wooded, poplar 
(cotton wood) predominating, but this growth is denser 
than that which prevails in the Nechaco Valley, the large 
open flats of which are so attractive to the settler. Still, 
around Stuart Lake and Stuart Eiver, to the confluence 
of the latter with the Upper Nechaco, there are nearly 
350,000 acres of excellent farming land, the possibilities 
of which, after clearing, are reflected by the varied and 
prime produce which the industrious factor of Fort St. 
James successfully raises year after year, comprising the 
usual range of vegetables and bush fruits. 

The whole of this country is within easy reach of 
Fort George by the Nechaco and Stuart rivers, which 
are navigable by shallow-draught steamers, and when the 
railway is completed competitive transportation facilities 
between the two points, and between them and others 
beyond, will be available. The climate around Stuart 
Lake is equable, the scanty rainfall being amply com- 
pensated by some six feet of snow during the winter, 
which melts slowiy and steadily under the influence of 
the Chinook winds, thereby mellowing the ground. The 
summer is magnificent, and the heat experienced is just 
of that degree to ensure the rapid growth of the crops 
and their maturing to perfection. Indeed, so far as we 


could ascertain from those who were familiar with the 
Nechaco and Stuart agricultural districts respectively, 
there was a sharp difference of opinion as to which was 
the superior in regard to agrarian value. As a matter 
of fact, there is little to choose between the two, but the 
probability is that the former country will be developed 
first, as the initial expense of labour for clearing, owing 
to the general open state of the country, is lower. 

The country immediately adjoining the Fraser Lake is 
wildly beautiful, and here the town-site planner intends 
to become unusually busy, it being generally considered 
that Fraser Lake can be converted into a great pleasure 
centre. Undoubtedly the elevated situation and bracing 
air render it a spot of potent recuperative power. The 
banks of the lake drop rather sharply into the water, and 
the conditions lend themselves to the founding of little 
sylvan colonies, with the streets rising in terraces, giving 
uninterrupted, magnificent views of lake and woodland 

Within sight of the post, to the east, is another 
Indian village, as sleepy-looking, neglected, and unkempt 
as Stoney Creek, a section of which colony has estab- 
hshed itself at this point. The natives had thrown their 
primitive wooden traps across the waterway, just below 
the outfall from the lake, since the salmon running up 
the Fraser attempt to reach this sheet of water, which 
is apparently a favourite spot for them to spawn. This 
year, however, the Indians had been rewarded with but 
indifferent success, the bumper har\'est being netted every 
three years. Trapping is their livelihood, though one or 
two of the more enlightened have adopted agriculture, in 
a lackadaisical manner, as we could see from the ragged 
patches of potatoes, turnips, and cabbages. The trading 
post was typically English, for there was the kitchen 
garden growing something of everything, from peas to 
cabbages, in addition to a variety of flowers. Even in 
the Dominion the Britisher cannot stifle his love of 


blossoms and their fragrance. When one catches sight 
of a vari-coloured border around a shack, nine times ont 
of ten the owner may be set down as hailing from the 
home country, and the guess will be found to be correct. 

When we started off from Fraser Lake it was raining 
hard. It was a cold downpour, too, w'hich numbed the 
extremities. The opposite bank of the lake was wrapped 
in an impenetrable wet cloud. For hour after hour we 
climbed ridges, meandered through narrow gorges, floun- 
dered in muskeg, and silently and slowly crawled through 
dense poplar woods with the wild grasses and weeds top- 
ping five or six feet. We had been going for about six 
hours. Tired, hungry, and miserable, our pace had 
dropped to about a mile an hour against a driving, relent- 
less rain, slight shelter from which was a welcome relief 
when we entered a small tract of that fine timber which 
is one of the most valuable assets of British Columbia. 
We were aroused rudely from our silent ruminations by 
a cheery hail. Just in front of us was a tall, gaunt figure 
wearing a long sou'wester, standing up under a tree to 
secure a little shelter from the beating rain which just 
then was coming down with trebled fury and volume. 
We returned the greeting and hurried up, our spirits 
raised by encountering a fellow-countryman in the bush. 

"Well, what do you think of British Columbia 
weather, eh? Bit of a terror, isn't it, to-day? Gad ! you 
look pretty cold. Go in my shack down the trail and 
get a warm up. My wife's at home, and she'll be jolly 
pleased to see you." 

He was just off into the bush, but suddenly changed 
his mind and decided to accompany us to his woodland 
domicile. "I'll bet you come from the same village as I, 
eh? Well, how's London looking. It's a good many 
years since I was there. Here's my hut — a typical 
rancher's dwelling — something different from the semi- 
detached I used to have out Streatham way." 

A rancher's home is something like the flat humor- 


ously described by Dan Leno. It measures about 14 ft. 
by 20 ft. inside, is rectangular in shape, built up of 
logs which have been barked, and connected at the 
corners in dovetail or saddle joints, usually the latter, as 
being easier and simpler. The ridge roof is set at a 
sharp angle and shingled. Inside, level with the eaves 
and ten or twelve feet above the floor, which is set about 
two feet above the ground, is the wooden ceiling, the 
space above being used as a loft. In one corner is the 
bedroom, two steps away another corner serves as the 
living space, the third corner forms the kitchen, scullery, 
and so forth, while the space behind the door, opening 
directly into the room, constitutes the hall. Such is a 
typical rancher's home, serving the whole of his require- 
ments until he has established his feet well on the ladder 
of prosperity, when he sets out to build a permanent resi- 
dence replete with all conveniences. But even a shack 
like this runs into £30 or more, and takes three weeks' 
steady, continuous toil to build. This pioneer had not 
completed his home yet, for the interstices between the 
horizontally laid logs had not been chinked with moss ; 
but "the crevices ensure good ventilation," laughed the 
owner, "though I'll have to set to work pretty soon to 
make it snug for the winter." 

This settler, his wife and little baby, had come up 
from Quesnel the previous winter, travelling by sleigh a 
matter of 140 miles. His holding was 160 acres, pre- 
empted at 4s. per acre. Like all the other settlers I met, 
he had come in on the "ground floor" in anticipation of 
the railway's anival, for his future hung entirely on this 
transportation link. It is impossible to realise the extent 
to which these pioneers in the wilderness depend upon the 
completion of the new iron road from Atlantic to Pacific ; 
to them it is as the staff of life, for it demands consider- 
able pluck to get into such a country in advance of the 
bond of steel. 

But this lonely house gave me a curious, intimate 


glimpse of frontier life. The husband was a public school 
boy, while the lady of the ranch had passed through a 
similar curriculum. Considering that anything outside 
the three E's is absolutely out of place in the bush, they 
certainly seemed like a square peg trying to force its way 
into a round hole, for the higher education they had re- 
ceived was gone astray very sadly. It recalled a case I had 
previously met, that of a youth who had gone through 
Eton at much expense to his parents for one of the higher 
services, and had developed into a cowboy. Human 
nature certainly has some strange kinks. But the wife 
was turning her knowledge to valuable account. An- 
other rancher near by had three children. The nearest 
school was over a hundred miles away, and they were 
of too tender an age to be sent away on boarding terms. 
This lady had come to the rescue, and was giving the 
children of the wilderness the education which other- 
wise they would have missed. They came thrice a week, 
and when we reached the house the school, into which 
the dining corner had been converted for the nonce, was 
breaking up. The pupils' home was some four or five 
miles distant through the bush. Their means of trans- 
portation was a single horse. The three children clam- 
bered on his back with the eldest girl in front holding 
the reins, the youngest child behind her gripping her 
waist, and the third youngster at the rear clinging tightly 
to the one in front of her. The horse realised the re- 
sponsibility of his position, for he walked along sedately 
with the minimum of jolt, bearing those three mites home- 
wards. He required no rein to guide him ; he knew the 
way blindfolded, and the children were safer with him 
than is a child with a nursemaid. Only once did he 
prick up his ears, as the father rode up bound for Fort 
Fraser to secure some requirements. The equine nurse 
neighed as his colleague sped by, but without a pause 
continued his homeward plod. 

It was late in the afternoon, with the rain falling in 


torrents, when we skirted the extreme edge of Fraser 
Lake and made another turn into the thick bush, leaving 
the Indian village of Stella on one side to follow the 
telegraph line through the thick grass-carpeted dell, until 
w6 met the Endako River, which pours into Fraser Lake. 
This waterway is entirely different from any other rivers 
we had met. It was more like an attenuated pond, so 
stagnant was the water. We were soaked to the skin, 
cold, hungry, and miserable, and so pitched our camp on 
its banks, in a small clearing in the bush. The ground 
was so saturated as to be ooze-like, and on this we laid 
our beds, there being a wicked squelch as we rolled into 
our blankets. 

It poured incessantly all night, and the next day 
dawning with no sign of a lift-up in the weather, we re- 
solved to stay where we were, and to make the most of 
an unhappy plight. We built a huge fire and rigged up a 
" fly " to secure some measure of protection from the ele- 
ments. There we passed the day, steaming like basted 
joints on one side, and with our clothes sticking like gum 
on the other. The weather was more than depressing 
— it was maddening. The dripping bush on all sides, a 
violent shivering-fit if you moved beyond a certain dis- 
tance from the fire, a water-logged tent and reeking bed- 
ding were our lot. 

The pioneer settler in such a country as this never 
knows when he is going to make a "lucky strike." One 
hardy old farmer took over 640 acres at the northern 
end of Fraser Lake at 4s. an acre — an outlay of £128 
all told. It was a good farming stretch, and he set to 
work in grim earnest. Then a town-planner came along 
and concluded that this particular site was far more 
suitable to the raising of houses, shops, and commercial 
establishments than mere potatoes, oats, and hay. Would 
the owner sell? Certainly, if the price were sufficiently 
enticing ! The upshot was that the farmer packed up his 
traps, his pockets bulging with some £4,500, for the 


town-planner had bought him out, lock, stock and barrel, 
at 35 dollars an acre, and he settled down again a little 
distance beyond on another square mile. He there put 
up imposing, spacious outbuildings for the housing of 
his stock and harvested crops, had a comfortable home, 
and could point to as fine a stretch of healthy potatoes 
and other vegetables as you could aspire to possess. The 
new location from his farming point of view was quite 
equal to that which the town-planner had coveted, and 
he was so many hundred pounds to the good over the 
transaction ! And this was not an isolated case by any 
means ; but it suffices to show that it is the man who 
gets in on the " ground floor " who scores. 

Despite the inclemency of the elements, we had visitors. 
Three Indians came up with a string of salmon trout. 
They demanded a dollar: to be rid of their insistence 
we offered a quarter — a shilling. They would not accept, 
but laid the fish down on the ground and walked a short 
distance away. The first inclination was to kick the 
whole lot into the water, but such is the Indian's method 
of trading. He leaves the goods with you, although he 
will not accept your price, and then hangs about like a 
more dampening blanket than the weather. At last, to 
get them out of sight, we sprang another shilling, which 
they grabbed , and melted from view in double quick time 
amid the bush, fearing we might change our mind. 

A little later we heard a faint splash in the water and 
another vendor was visiting us. He had a medley of 
provisions, and was as venerable a patriarch as ever 
walked the earth. The natives said he was over a 
hundred years old. He certainly looked it, for he was 
the most decrepit lump of humanity that ever I have 
seen. He was bent with age, his feet were bare, his 
nether garments sadly the worse for wear, and his ancient 
coat and shirt were soddened with rain. 

Despite our repulsion we could not but feel com- 
miseration. Even Sam, who cherished a keen hatred 


against Siwashes and anything pertaining thereto, re- 
lented. "Come up to the fire, you old son of Noah," he 
yelled. A second invitation was not required. The old 
figure hurried up, and squatting on his haunches within 
a few inches of the blazing mass, rubbed his hands in 
high satisfaction. We tried to draw him into conversa- 
tion ; it was useless, for he iailed to understand us. But 
his gnarled and knotted frame, in which the vital spark 
was not extinguished yet by any means, his wrinkled 
face and wiry hands, his mouth in which the whole set 
of teeth was still intact though worn down to the level of 
the gums, presented a study which it would be hard in- 
deed to equal. He was one of the last warriors of a decay- 
ing race — tossed on one side by the younger generation 
as useless. His faculties were wonderfully acute. His 
hearing was fairly good, his eyesight, so far as we could 
judge, was keen, and when he departed after a square 
meal to which we invited him, we saw that age had not 
dimmed his prowess with the paddle, for he sent the 
old dug-out, as decrepit as himself, speeding swiftly and 
silently along the sluggish waterway. He represented 
in the flesh one of the types portrayed so strikingly by 
Fenimore Cooper, a type which is vanishing rapidly 
from the Great North- West. A vivid contrast to the 
backboneless Siwashes who hung on our camps. 

In the evening the lineman of the telegraph, living 
barely a quarter of a mile away, strode up to the camp. 
He had about thirty miles of line to patrol, and had been 
pretty busy, for interruptions in communication had been 
occurring with startling frequency. His sole occupation 
was "looking for trouble," as these breakdowns in the 
telegraphic conversation are called. Bush fires had been 
giving him a hustling time, for they brought down post 
after post, and occasionally snapped the vrire. 

"Any excitement?" he repeated to a query. "Well, 
sometimes. But the breaks are generally caused by wind 
or fire ; in winter we have but little trouble. I was out 


once, and had come across a post in two. I pitched the 
reins of my horse over a snag and set to work. I heard 
my cayouse kicking and pawing the ground, but took 
no notice as it was getting dark. I had just got the post 
and wire up when I looked round, and there, barely 
twenty feet away, was a big bear watching my operations 
very intently. I stopped, and he advanced. Did I 
wait? Not much, for my gun was in the saddle. I gave 
a hop, skip and a jump, was on my horse's back in a 
flash, whisked the reins off the snag, turned her head, 
and was soon pelting away like the very wind, pulling out 
my gun as I sped along. The old girl came after me like 
winking. It was a healthy race, but the horse won, for 
when I at last pulled rein, judging I had got a safe 
distance to have a straight shot, she was nowhere to be 

"Yes, looking for trouble is pretty exasperating some- 
times. Last week I had been ten miles over my line 
towards Fraser Lake and had put a breakdown right. I 
got home late that night to find another interruption. I 
called up Fraser Lake. That was all right. It was on 
the fifteen-mile stretch north that the break had hap- 
pened. I was up in the early morning and off full pelt. 
A post had come down and there was a dead earth. I 
put that right and returned home. As I rode up, dog- 
tired, my wife told me that there was another break. I 
called up Fraser Lake, and got through, then tried the 
other side, and found Burns Lake on the north did not 
answer. I was off again at dawn, taking a blanket and 
a pocket full of provisions with me. I found a bush fire 
had been raging, and about a score of trees had dropped 
across the wire, bringing down two or three hundred feet 
of it, not far beyond where I was working the previous 
day. I had to lop everything away myself, and night was 
on me before I had finished getting some of the debris 
clear. I then made my way to the half-way hut provided 
for us between stations, made a fire, had a bit to eat, and 


turned in for a sleep. I had not been resting long before 
my mate coming south from the next station clattered in. 
He was looking for the same break and had found his 
line all clear, so guessed I was in trouble. He gave me 
a hand the next day; we got along fine, and by working 
till dark got the line straight again. We said good-bye, 
and I steered for home through the darkness. Hang me 
if, when I got home, I didn't find another break had 
occurred on the Fraser Lake section. I had to be off 
again at dawn looking for this further trouble. A wind- 
fall had broken the line clean in two between posts. I 
had a pretty rough fortnight over those ' breaks,' I can 
assure you. This line has to carry such a lot of traffic, 
for although there is not much business doing with the 
Klondike these times, it is the sole means of ready com- 
munication between Prince Eupert and the outside world, 
and the amount of traffic over the line is sometimes 

It must be confessed that the Yukon telegraph is the 
most crazily built line I have ever seen. How it keeps 
intact so well is a marvel. The posts for the most part 
are tottering, for their life is short under the best condi- 
tions, and when wind and falling trees give them continu- 
ous jolts they are done for. Out of curiosity I asked one 
of the linemen whether the posts kept the line up, or if 
it was the wire that kept up the posts, " Hang me if I 
know," he replied ; "but I guess it's a bit of both." 

Besides carrying the Klondike and Prince Eupert 
messages, the line effects a junction at Dawson City 
with the United States telegraph system of Alaska, the 
outermost finger of which rests on the Behring Straits 
at Nome. One can therefore conceive the immense 
damming of messages that ensues sometimes when a 
breakdown occurs. 

We had an exciting sixty seconds the next day as we 
were rounding a huge bank of shale that had tumbled 
from a cliff overhanging us. The pathway was littered 


with broken rock, over which we had to crawl gingerly. 
Animated by some obscure reason, Sam's horse reared 
and was about to give a healthy buck, when it changed its 
mind and rubbed shoulders with a telegraph post, which 
snapped off like a carrot. 

"Look alive," we called out, as we saw the post 
coming over. The packer dug heels into his horse and 
slashed it over the head with his lariat. It gave a mighty 
spring just as the post crashed down, missing Sam by 
inches only. Had it hit him he would have been laid 
out as surely as an ox under a pole-axe. We thought the 
wire had snapped, but it had stood the srtrain, so we 
managed with great difficulty to set the post vertical once 
more ; the thread of conversation between London and 
Dawson City was maintained intact. 

We skirted the north-eastern bank of Burns Lake, 
keeping to the higher ground. It is evident that Burns 
Lake has undergone considerable shrinkage, for a level 
bench reaches from the water's edge to a considerable 
distance ; it is lightly covered with poplar scrub, and with 
wild hay in profusion, some of which the Indians had cut 
and roughly stacked. Here and there were large patches 
of soft ground of a semi-swampy nature, but which could 
be readily drained. The soil was a deep, rich black 
colour, and could easily be detected as an alluvial deposit 
with a clay subsoil. 

The possibilities of the land in these depressions 
around the lake were shown us when we arrived at the 
telegraph operator's cabin, for he had cultivated a small 
garden with potatoes, lettuces, cabbages and so forth, 
growing luxuriantly in a soil which crumbled in the 
fingers, and into which one could plunge the arm without 
meeting soUdity. The Uneman had taken over a pre- 
emption in the hollow where we pitched our camp, and 
had turned a little creek on to his land so as to give it a 
thorough soaking before attempting to break it. The 
presence of this creek was an insurance of this pre- 


emptor's crop, as it took but a minute or two to swing 
the water from its normal channel and to send it sprawl- 
ing over the land. 

Burns Lake cabin is probably the loneliest station 
south of the Skeena River. It is right off the beaten 
track, about sixty miles north of Fort Fraser, and about 
the same distance south of South Bulkley. The mailman 
coming from the south turns back at Fort Fraser, and his 
colleague from the north retraces his footsteps when he 
gains South Bulkley. Any mail destined for the operators 
at Burns Lake has to make its way wearily across country 
from Bella Coola on the coast, there being a delivery and 
collection about once a month. In the winter, when 
movement is confined to dog trains and is uncertain, 
only first-class mail is carried, such as letters, all book 
packages and newspapers being left at the Bella Coola 
post office until the weather breaks. 

A Fertile Corner of the Province 

The Lake Franjois Region— The South Babine Country— The Siwash 
Indians and the Telegraph— The Bulkley Valley— Wild Fruits- 
Minerals — " Dolly's " Pranks — A " Growing " Country. 

Burns Lake, and the smaller sheet of water a little 
farther north, Decker Lake, with which it is connected, 
are in the centre of a large district offering great promise 
for farming, and more especially, perhaps, seeing that the 
prevailing altitude is 2,700 feet or thereabouts, for the 
raising of stock. To the west and south-west extends the 
great plateau around Lakes Fran9ois, Ootsa, and Ches- 
latta. The wild growth throughout this district is of 
magnificent luxuriance. The Ootsa and Cheslatta 
country is somewhat difficult of access from this point, 
involving as it does a long overland journey ; but it can 
be entered with greater facility from the coast. The 
probability is that a spur will be driven from the main 
line of the Grand Trunk Pacific traversing the whole 
of this fertile expanse, possibly extending to tide- 
water at Bella Coola, whence there is a regular 
steamship service to Vancouver, 415 miles distant. 
Until some such transportation facilities are provided, 
the Ootsa Lake country will remain practically dormant, 
owing to the difficulty of getting produce to available 

On the other hand, Francois Lake, being more con- 
venient to the railway, will open up very rapidly. Last 
year some twenty-five settlers made their way in, and 
wTien we arrived, were engaged actively in clearing opera- 
tions. It is estimated that there are something like 



130,000 acres of excellent farming land around this narrow 
sheet of water, which is roughly sixty miles in length by 
about a mile wide. The country was described to us by 
one or two of the settlers as being tolerably level, with 
extensive flats here and there, and though it was early 
to obtain conclusive evidence concerning the produc- 
tivity of the soil from actual results, they stated that 
indications more than fulfilled anticipations, the soil being 
of the same rich character as is found in all the extensive 
depressions fringing the lakes and rivers of New British 
Columbia. One and all pointed out that under present 
conditions no one should attempt to settle here unless 
possessed of a little capital to defray the cost of entering 
the country, which is, at the moment, rather consider- 
able ; but this situation is being eased every month as the 
railway forces its path farther south. 

On the northern side runs another splendid arable belt 
skirting the southern end of Babine Lake, and extending 
more or less continuously to Stuart Lake. In the South 
Babine country it is estimated that there are about 
200,000 acres of excellent agricultural land, together with 
nearly 20,000 acres which have been reserved for pre- 
emptors. This country, again, is somewhat difficult and 
expensive to enter, but before long it will be linked to 
the trunk road, especially as the Stuart Lake and Eiver 
districts advance under settlement. 

An indication of what the settler must expect who 
ventures into this country in anticipation of the railway 
was afforded by the operator. A farmer on Fran9ois Lake 
found it necessary to dispatch a telegram, which entailed 
a ride of some eighty miles. That wire communication 
involved the best part of a week's absence from home, 
with a blanket and a few pounds of the barest provisions 
thrown upon his horse. He spent the night in the cabin, 
in expectation of a reply which never came, so that the 
journey to all intents and purposes was wasted. Kiding 
eighty miles to secure urgent communication with the 


outside world is a phase of frontier existence which 
throws its isolation into glaring relief. 

Another sidelight on life and movement in a new 
country was provided by an occasional meeting with a 
"hiker," bound from Hazelton to Fort George or Quesnel, 
or vice versa. It is a tramp of 320 or 430 miles, as the 
case may be. These sturdy pedestrians, however, make 
light of the journey, completing the distance easily in 
from eleven to fifteen days— about half the time it takes 
a pack-train to cover the same mileage. They strap a 
solitary blanket to the back, carry a few dollars in the 
pocket, and replenish supplies of provisions just where 
they can at stores by the wayside, and just sufficient in 
quantity to tide them over the intervening distances. 
They rely on making thirty miles a day, irrespectively of 
sunshine or rain, and more often than not pike along 
soaked to the skin. They endeavour to gain a telegraph 
station at night, but in cases where the stations are far 
apart, they spend the night in the half-way cabin pro- 
vided for the linemen. 

The presence of such overwhelming numbers of 
Siwashes led me to inquire if the red men ever interfered 
with the wire, either in appropriating lengths of the 
thread for personal purposes or out of devilment. 

"No fear," returned the operator. "In the first place 
they know better; secondly, they realise its significance, 
though it is useless to them. Indeed, many of them will 
go out of their way, when they discover a break, to round 
up the lineman and guide him to the seat of the trouble, 
for which they receive a little recompense in some form 
or other. The rendering of such assistance they regard 
as the proudest moments in their lives, for they cherish 
the idea that on such occasions they are working for that 
almighty force- -the Government. Sometimes we have 
to enlist their assistance, and they fall to with alacrity 
froni the same motives. Moreover, one or two of the 
Siwashes, when they find a post down, instead of 


reporting will re-erect it on their own initiative, feeling 
thereby that they have done something remarkable. 

"But in their eagerness to be of assistance they have 
sometimes overstepped the mark through ignorance. One 
day we had a break in the wire south of here. The line- 
man started off, but reached the half-way cabin without 
observing any signs of the wire being down, or any col- 
lapse of poles. At the half-way house he met his col- 
league from the next station south. They tested up. 
The half to Fraser Lake was all right ; the interruption 
was somewhere between the half-way house and Burns 
Lake. That was fully evident. Cursing for all he was 
w^orth, my comrade retraced his footsteps looking for 
short circuits, since wire and poles were intact. He had 
covered a good many miles without success when he came 
to a dead stop ; the cause of the trouble was before him 
and he had passed it on his outward search. He gave 
vent to a good healthy ebullition of his mind. "What had 
happened? Oh, the pole had evidently become partly 
uprooted under wind and weight of the wire, toppled 
over, and its condition had been observed by a Siwash. 
The Indian in his zeal to help us had picked up a length 
of the discarded wire of the '67 line lying on the ground, 
had looped it round the top of the fallen pole, had pulled 
the latter upright and fixed it so by converting his piece 
of wire into a stay. The result was a dead earth. The 
dots and dashes that were being pumped into that line 
were simply running down to the ground through this 
leak as the guy wire was doubled round our wire. When 
the lineman came in he was as mad as a hatter, and ex- 
pressed his firm resolve to go out to look straightaway 
for that energetic Siwash with his gun." 

The going became pretty hard as we approached the 
Bulkley summit. The country was extremely broken, 
and at places had been badly burnt over by recent furious 
bush fires, littering the trail with deadfall, with here and 
there teasing stretches of muskeg. Other spots were 


badly obstructed by rocks. It was a succession of heavy 
climbs, the banks over which the trail made its way being 
steep and slippery from rain, and composed of crum- 
bling shale. After five or six hours' wrestle with this 
severely undulating, winding, and arduous path we 
entered a magnificent plateau almost as level as a billiard- 
table and stretching for miles on either side to a tree- 
covered ridge. It recalled nothing so much as parts of 
the weald of Kent, for narrow streams fringed with 
willows, little more than ditches in point of width, 
though well charged with water, wound tortuously 
through the meadow land. The altitude and somewhat 
exposed nature of this prairie, no doubt rendering it very 
inhospitable if not absolutely untenantable in winter, will 
operate against its settlement, but as a pasturage for 
cattle it was one of the finest stretches we had yet met, 
and the horses keenly enjoyed being turned loose on this 
vast tract for the night. The sole sign of habitation was 
a Siwash shack perched on the distant hillside, but evi- 
dently uninhabited at that moment, for we saw nothing 
of the owner. We kept to the western ridge, with its 
shield of young poplars in which wild grasses flourished 
to a man's height, proving that the area of meadowland 
could be extended easily and to decided profit by clear- 
ing. It was certainly a lonely comer of the province, a 
feature that was accentuated by the howl of the coyotes 
which made night hideous, while in the morning there 
was heard the curioua and plaintive wail of the loon. At 
the broadest point this vale is fully five or six miles wide, 
and about twenty miles in length ; judging from its 
character it had been timbered formerly, but the 
wood had fallen a victim to the ravages of fire, and so 
completely that the scrub had never been able to take 
root again. 

We had touched the fringe of the Bulkley Valley, 
which has long been heralded as the Paradise of British 
Columbia — and certainly the description is not inappro- 


priate, for after leaving this broad, long flat we traversed 
a succession of others. We could not help observing one 
very prominent feature. The Indian, who saw his land 
slipping more and more from his grasp, had made a last 
bold bid to retain some semblance of proprietorship by 
occupying all the best, most level and most open 
stretches. Whether his squatting will hold good or other- 
wise remains to be seen , inasmuch as the country has not 
yet been surveyed. Here and there a Siwash is indus- 
trious, aal is evident from the manner in which he has 
fenced his holding and set it out jnore or less methodi- 
cally, though it must be confessed that the red man's idea 
of symmetry is somewhat bizarre. 

The most astonishing feature of the country we were 
threading now was the prolific yield of wild fruits. The 
bushes of gooseberries, both black and red, were laden 
to breaking point ; the fruits, running to the size of a 
small marble, were sweet and juicy. They were dead 
ripe, the slightest shake of the branch sending them 
rattling in showers to the ground. Currants were just 
as thick, while the raspberry canes were bent with the 
weight of their produce, which for the most part was of 
greater size than can be obtained under cultivation at 
home. We rode for miles through this natural orchard, 
the bushes being as thick as the willow scrub, which in- 
deed they appeared to have displaced. 

Some twenty miles due north of us, at the south- 
eastern end of Babine Lake, great activity was being dis- 
played in the search for minerals on the slopes of the 
southern nose of the Babine range. One prospector had 
located a rich find of galena, some specimen ore of which 
we saw; so far as exploitation had been carried up to 
that time, there was a commercially practicable yield of 
gold per ton, while other minerals were present in large 
quantities. Development was being pushed forward 
energetically, the mine having been bonded for d£15,000. 
The success of this "strike" had become noised abroad. 


and occasionally we passed one or two prospectors toiling 
along with their horses and packs, striking across country 
to the new mining area. 

During our toiling over the Bulkley divide we were 
treated to another exasperating incident. In the pack- 
train was a docile young mare which answered to the 
name of "Dolly." She had hardly shaken down to 
the rough tumble and steady pegging along demanded of 
the pack-horse, though she gave every promise of develop- 
ing into a first-class ship of the bush in time. Dolly 
grew tired of marching along day after day in the same 
place in the pack-train, so took up a position at the rear, 
trotting along behind with her load like a dog. Now and 
again she would stop for a browse until we were some 
way ahead though still in sight, when in response to a 
whistle from Sam she would canter up and repeat the 
performance. But she did this once too often. We 
passed her quietly chewing a dainty morsel under a tree 
on the edge of the forest. An instant later she had dis- 
appeared. Sam darted into the dense forest, whistling 
and calling her by name, but there was no sign of the 
little grey mare. With a sharp adjuration from Sam, 
I was deputed to hustle the second half of the pack-train 
along, the leading division under the other packer being 
some way ahead. Lett lingered behind to give Sam 

The pack-train realised that its proper driver was not 
in charge, and instantly commenced playing pranks, one 
slipping into the bush on this side, another trotting like 
mad ahead, while others wandered off to every point of 
the compass. Finally, recognising that even a tyro pack- 
driver has his limits of endurance, and can cut up rough 
■\ivhen provoked, they shook down to their task, and made 
off at an inspiriting trot to catch up the first division. 
For four solid hours I was steering that troublesome part 
of the ship, and gathered a faint idea of what a packer has 
to tolerate from his charges, and why it is that "to swear 




like a packer " has come to denote the extreme perfection 
of invective. 

At last we swung down from the high ridge into a 
broad valley, to be greeted with the welcome, "Well, 
boys, I guess now you're here you're going to stop 

It was one of the twain who pass their lives in the 
telegraph cabin, for we had struck the South Bulkley 
station. "While we were debating what we should do, 
up galloped Lett with the news that no signs of Dolly 
had been seen, that Sam was out in the woods scouring 
over a wide circle looking for her tracks, and that he 
would not come on till he had found her, even if he stayed 
there all night. It was obvious that we could not get 
too far ahead, for it was a moot point when Sam would 
reappear, so we splashed across the Bulkley River, then 
low and easily fordable, and on a flat on the western bank 
pitched our camp. 

The two hail-fellows-well-met in charge of the tele- 
graph cabin gave valuable assistance and information, 
for one, Mr. William Clark, is an encyclopaedia on the 
northern part of New British Columbia. We were not 
long in making a hearty supper disappear. Just as we 
were stretching our limbs and enjoying an agreeable 
tete-a-tete with "my Lady Nicotine" there was a shout, 
a savage whoop, and Dolly tore through the scrub 
giving vent to a loud neigh, with Sam galloping 
hard on her heels. His little grey mare had given 
him a fine hunt in the bush. He had scoured over a 
wide circle, but without any success. Then as he 
paused for a breather on a clearing he spotted the 
hoofs of a horse in the air. Spurring his horse towards 
the point, he found Dolly enjoying a good roll in the 
tall wild hay. 

"I giv' her 'roll,'" vehemently exclaimed Sam; 
"she never moved sar lively as when I gave her a dose 
o' thar end of my lariat. Th' minx had me tearin' 


about in th' timber as black as night for five solid hours. 
Gee ! hand over the tea, Joe; I'm as dry as a bottle with 
the cork out." 

In the evening Clark and his companion spent an 
hour or two with us and the time flew rapidly. 

"Grow?" said he. "Why, anything will grow here. 
You cannot help it. You cannot stop the seeds after 
they've once started, even if you wished to do so. There's 
only one difficulty. That's labour. It's a perfect fright. 
Why, I had to pay a man £3 a day for himself and team, 
only a week or two ago, to get my crops in, as I was out 
on the line and couldn't do it myself. But there, that 
wasn't so bad as one experience I had in the Klondike. 
There the son of a gun refused to work for half a day 
for less than 50 dollars (£10). But if you want to see 
how things will grow out here, you make a stop-over 
when you hit the Bulkley Kiver again to-morrow and 
have a good look over Mclnnes' ranch. That'll open 
your eyes." 

When we pulled out in the early morning Clark and 
his companion said they would follow us up. There was 
trouble on the line for which they had been searching for 
days past without success. "So long, boys," they said 
as we departed. "We'll see you before nightfall! I 
guess we'll catch you up, as you've got a pretty tight 
twenty-five miles in front of you." 

He was right about the trail. It ran the fifteen miles 
along Moose Lake a pretty close second for arduousness 
and difficulty. First we had to make a wide detour of 
about two miles to avoid a stretch of muskeg which was 
generally passable, but now was saturated hopelessly. 
As it was, we struck its edge and had a lively time 
•floundering in the morass. Then came a stiff climb of 
about one in three up a mountain hump, which the trail 
zig-zagged in the most astonishing manner, and even 
then was so steep that we had to walk, or, rather, pull 
ourselves up hand over hand. Muskeg, deadfall, slimy 


stretches of loose stones, bush, snags — all were encoun- 
tered in turn and with aggravating frequency. But at 
last we once more struck the Bulkley River, and an open 
spot beneath the trees. We drew up — a most bedraggled 
and limp assortment of man and beast. 

The Bulkley Valley: The Farmer's Treasureland 

The Mclnnes Ranch— Timothy Six Feet in Length— Top Soil more than 
Twenty-eight Feet Deep— A Wonderful Field of Oats— The Kitchen 
Garden — A Bed of Purple-top Turnip — A Famous Potato — Straw- 
berries — Live Stock — The Diamond Ranch — Leaving behind the 
Lonely Trail — The Commissariat for Three Thousand Navvies — 

We had now reached the far-famed Bulkley Valley, about 
the possibilities of which much has been whispered, but 
of which very little has been seen, owing to its inaccessi- 
bility. Clark and his chum had reached our camp, both 
having come along slowly, looking for the trouble in the 
wire, but without avail ; and being great friends with the 
Mclnnes brothers, whose celebrated ranch was near by, 
Clark offered to be our introducer. 

The Mclnnes farm is the pioneer ranch in the South 
Bulkley Valley. The owners, two brothers, known 
popularly as "Long" and "Short," from their striking 
differences in stature, hail from Scotland, and reached 
this country via the Yukon Telegraph : in other words, 
were associated with its construction, afterwards settling 
down as lineman and operator in this neighbourhood. 
They first acquired 160 acres, which they tilled and 
tended in their spare time, but became so enamoured of 
the future that lay before them in the agricultural field 
that they relinquished the telegraph with its seventy-five 
dollars a month, all found, to devote the whole of their 
energies to exploiting the wealth of the land. 

They have carried improvement to a remarkable point, 
considering their isolated position, and the extreme dififi- 



culty and expense that have to be encountered in bring- 
ing equipment lioui the coast. The outbuildings are of 
substantial and spacious construction, recalling those of 
home. Their stock, which gazed upon us in wonder as 
we approached, looked remarkably sleek, fat, and of fine 
development, and, as we found afterwards, appearances 
were not deceptive, for the flesh was tasty, juicy, and 
tender. Their fine proportions certainly offered striking 
contrast to the stunted, degenerated stock of the Indians, 
so in-bred that some full-grown bulls were not much 
larger than a finely developed St. Bernard dog. 

The brothers had run up a commodious, snug and 
warm bungalow type of residence, with ample accommo- 
dation. Attached was a meat-storage room and dairy, 
for they were practising all ramifications of farming out 
here, on a scale limited, it is true, owing to the restricted 
markets, but capable of an immediate expansion when 
the moment arrived, that is, when the railway passed 
within earshot of their home. 

Though up to their eyes in work, garnering their hay 
and other crops, they instantly offered to show us round. 
The barn was crammed with timothy ; none of your thin 
wisps barely thirty inches long, but good substantial 
stalks ranging from five to six feet in length. In all, 
they had gathered in from £1,000 to £1,200 worth of 

"What's it worth? Well, here £8 per ton is a fair 
figure, though a larger price has been paid, and probably 
will be obtained again this coming winter, as there is 
not sufficient hay in the valley to meet all demands. 
Wild hay grows here tremendously. We have cropped 
one meadow where the hay was like canes, and when 
my brother went into the field you couldn't see him — 
and he stands a good six feet. Some of that hay we 
measured just before cutting, and it was nine feet in 

"How many years' work does this farm represent? 


Well, we've been settled here seven years now. We hold 
just on a thousand acres, and have some more which we 
can clear directly. But that can wait. Every foot of 
that thousand acres was ploughed, and you can form some 
idea of the nature of the soil when we tell you that 
throughout its whole area we only found one small stone. 
It works with extreme ease, being a friable loam — silt, 

Just what tremendous wealth this land represents may 
be judged from the depth of the top soil. The brothers 
were sinking a well for domestic purposes within easy 
reach of the house, and although they had delved to 
twenty-eight feet they were passing through merely the 
uppermost strata, and had not reached the subsoil. In 
no part of the thousand acres was the depth of top soil 
less than eight feet, and one can readily conceive that 
years must elapse before such ground as this becomes 
tired, exhausted, or requires any artificial stimulation. 
In one or two places the silt had been found to be as 
much as thirty-two feet deep ! When we visited the 
kitchen garden, the feet sank into the black silt as if 
it were sand. At the same time, owing to its great 
depth it cannot become parched to the crops, for the 
reason that when saturated it holds a tremendous quantity 
of water, and as the roots of the plants can force their 
way easily below they can suck up illimitable quantities 
of nourishment for their development from a depth well 
below the evaporating effect of the sun's rays. Plants 
can never starve from the want of a drink in such soil 
as this. Also the Bulkley Eiver acts as a stand-by. The 
brothers can quickly divert a part of its volume to flood 
their fields. 

We were a trifle late in the season to see the farm 
at the height of its beauty, inasmuch as the hay, wheat, 
and barley had been garnered. There was a field of oats 
standing, and they were a sight to make an English 
farmer turn green with envy. Summer frost had wrought 


no havoc here, although the oat is one of the plants most 
susceptible to its destructive effects. We had seen, how- 
ever, fields of oats growing in exposed positions in which 
the crops had been ruined by frost. This field of grain 
was just ripening, and it easily topped four and a half 
feet in height, with long ears well filled and matured. 
This grain was worth £20 per ton on the ranch. 

But the most remarkable sight was afforded by the 
kitchen garden. Something of everything had been 
planted. The carrots were the least successful from 
external appearance, but this was explained as being due 
to seeding by a new machine which was not working 
properly, so that blanks were frequent, giving the bed 
a ragged appearance. But the roots that were pulled for 
our inspection were of splendid shape and colour, about 
18 inches long, by some 2 or 3 inches across the crown. 
The parsnips were better, while the white turnips were 
striking examples of British Columbian fertility, for they 
were almost completely spherical, weighed from 2 to 4 lb. 
apiece, and as sweet and juicy as an apple. Cabbages of 
all descriptions were growing in abundance. There were 
savoys with hearts as tight as drums, and twelve inches 
across ; curly kale thriving like young bushes ; while the 
ordinary cabbages had attained huge proportions and were 
reeling under their own weight. One could not span a 
single plant with the two arms vsdthout crushing it. The 
largest cabbage these brothers have raised yet, so they 
related, turned the scale at 20 lb., and they kept it for 
some time to show passers-by. 

"We made one mistake when we started our kitchen 
garden," remarked the brothers. "We had not quite 
shaken down to the new order of things, and to make 
sure, as we thought, we turned in a mass of stable manure 
to help the plants along. The plants grew all right, but 
they ran so much to neck, for that soil was too rich with 
the fertiliser we added. We haven't got rid yet of that 
stimulating dressing we gave it." 


But the brothers kept their greatest surprise till the 
last. This was a bed of purple-top turnip which was 
being grown for winter feeding of the stock. Here was 
Brobdingnag with a vengeance. The top leaves were 
large, but they concealed only a far greater growth below. 
The crowns, many of which were split into five heads, 
were from 12 to 14 inches across. Some were pulled, and 
when measured gave a circumference ranging from 24 to 
36 inches ! Three roots made a bulky and heavy armful , 
as we found from experience. The Mclnnes Brothers 
hold the palm in the Bulkley Valley for raising this 
gpecies of turnip, for they established a record with a 
single root weighing 20 lb. ! "I remember that root," 
muttered Clark, "for I offered to carry it into Hazelton, 
to show what we were doing farther south, tied it to 
the saddle, and had it thumping my leg like a hammer 
all the way." 

"That recalls the fellow at Prince Rupert with the 
South Bulkley potato," chuckled one of the brothers. 
Then turning to us, he explained that some fine potatoes 
had been raised between there and Aldermere, and they 
were taken over by an enthusiast, who carried them to 
Prince Eupert in triumph for exhibition. He was ex- 
patiating at great length about the tremendous, amazing, 
and paradise-like productivity of the soil, and picking up 
the largest "spud," a beauty about the size of a vegetable 
marrow, he went on, "Now this shows you what they can 
do in the Bulkley Valley ! Can you raise potatoes like 
this? Have you ever seen one to beat this for size? 
How would you like to raise a hundred acres of them? 
This single tuber is worth so much. Talk about looking 
for gold. Why, potatoes down in Bulkley will bring you 
more gold than you'll ever dig up, and the strike is more 
certain too ! " 

"That's all right," struck in a "knocker " ; "but how 
about your summer frosts down there? " 

" Summer frosts ! Gee ! I guess you want a summer 


frost or something to stop things growing. Where do 
you think this potato would have finished if it hadn't 
been for the frost?" 

The long residence and farming experience of these 
two Scottish brothers in this valley prompted an inquiry 
as to the fruit-raising outlook. 

"So far as ground and bush fruits are concerned," 
was the reply, "we can confidently say that everything 
is in favour of obtaining a prolific harvest. You should 
have been here a few weeks ago and seen the straw- 
berries. They were as thick as ' saskatoons.' We 
turned the whole lot into preserve, and you can see in- 
doors the stock of packed jars we obtained from these 
three or four dozen plants. As for currants, the bushes 
were strained to breaking point. You will find a few if 
you look." What was left on the bushes in question 
bore out the brothers' enthusiasm, for we picked hand- 
fuls of berries as large as black-heart cherries, a mass of 
juice, and intensely sweet. The gooseberries were also 
of large size, and we learned that these were simply wild 
bushes, sTich as we had passed in thousands along the 
trail, raised under cultivation conditions. The effect of 
rough pruning and tending was reflected in the size of 
the fruit, and when the country is opened up a little 
more, it should amply repay the extensive production of 
new species grafted on this stock. 

The stock farm comprised 96 head all told, grazing 
on the hillsides, and securing a plenitude of nourishing 
food in the wild grasses among the trees. Five of this 
roll were hogs, and the brothers vouchsafed the firm 
opinion that ultimately the raising of swine would be 
found to be one of the most lucrative branches of stock- 
raising in the province, the demand being far in excess of 
the supply, not only locally, so far as they were con- 
cerned, but throughout the whole of the western country. 
Indeed, the authorities have drawn attention to the 
neglect of this phase of mixed farming, and have endea- 


voured to stimulate greater interest in the porker. These 
isolated pioneer farmers were doing very well in regard 
to their stock. The previous day they had sold the hind- 
quarter of a steer at 9d. a lb., thereby netting £8 12s. 6d. 
over the transaction, while we decided not to miss the 
opportunity of obtaining the first taste of fresh meat for 
some ten weeks, by the purchase of a prime 28-lb. joint 
at lOd. per lb. Never did grilled steaks tickle the palate 
so much as those prepared over the camp fire that night. 
It was a welcome change from the eternal bacon, beans 
and fish. We had felt severely the absence of fresh meat 
from our menu, for although vegetables can be prepared 
appetisingly, a hard grind over the trail for six or seven 
hours soon proves that such fare possesses no staying 
properties. Those steaks quite rejuvenated us, and we 
felt fitter the next morning for a good day's wrestle with 
the trail over the hills than we had done for weeks past. 
To be able to withstand the rigours, hard knocks, and 
fatigue of the trail, one cannot do better than imitate the 
Indian, who is a staunch believer in a meat diet. 

The Bulkley Valley extends from the Morice Eiver to 
Moricetown, a distance of about a hundred miles in a 
direct line north, and lies between the coast range or 
Cascades on the one side, and the Babine mountains on 
the other, while on the north it is hemmed in by the 
opposing ranges closing together. The first-class arable 
country covers about 200,000 acres. The country 
clamours loudly for men who, though possessed of little 
capital, have abundant energy and are not afraid to work 
long and hard. 

We had a hard climb over the rolling ridge guarding 
the Pioneer Ranch. This stretch of country holds out 
no promise of immediate development, owing to its rough 
character, though doubtless it will be useful in days to 
come as grazing ground. The upward toil led us on to 
a magnificent undulating plateau, rimmed by the sharp, 
tall, gaunt peaks of the outer chain of the Cascades, at 



the foot of which was the silvery streak of the Bulkley 
River. On the right rose up the foothills of the Babine 
range , over which we could see the telegraph trail making 
its sinuous way, for we had now parted company with 
this friend. The elevation was high, the air clear, pure 
and invigorating. We passed through dense patches of 
scrub in which the luxuriant pea vine and prairie grasses 
were having a healthy race with the bush to see which 
could grow the highest. 

The whole of this highland tract, sandwiched between 
the opposing main mountain ranges, and running parallel 
therewith, with its slopes falling gradually on to large, 
gently undulating benches, was formerly a huge forest, 
swept clean out of existence by fire. For the most part 
the hump is quite bare. A large slice, aggregating 3,000 
acres, constitutes one of the most celebrated ranches in 
this northern country, having been acquired some twenty 
years ago by Mr. Barrett, the bonanza farmer of New 
British Columbia, whose ship of the bush, the Diamond 
Ranch pack-train, is regarded as the finest and the best 
equipped between Los Angeles and the Klondike. His 
courage in advancing into this wild virgin domain brought 
its own reward. We could see a rich stretch of potatoes 
in the full glory of their growth. Like the other hus- 
bandmen through these valleys, he simply plants his 
tubers and lets the soil and climate do the rest, and to 
magnificent effect, too, seeing that they average 600 
bushels, and realise over £'200 per acre. The "mur- 
phies" are simply sown by the plough turning them in, 
and receive no further attention until they have ripened, 
when they are ploughed up by animal power. 

Hay is another paying investment, as we could see 
by the numerous stacks. Something like a thousand 
acres have been seeded to timothy, and the yield varies 
from 1| to 3 tons per acre, and commands about £S per 
ton on the ranch. Wild hay also grows with character- 
istic luxuriance, the 500 acres or so under this plant 


averaging about 2 tons per acre. The fodder raised on 
this expanse is of magnificent quaUty, and has been cut 
successively for some years past, showing the sustaining 
richness of the soil. At the time we reached the ranch 
the crop had been gathered in and the cattle were roaming 
whither they pleased. 

Oats also have proved a winner, having averaged 
from 75 to 100 bushels per acre. Owing to the limited 
quantity of this grain at present raised in the valley this 
has commanded a highly satisfactory figure — about J930 
per ton on the farm. The character of the country here- 
abouts adapts itself to mechanical farming, which, with 
the advent of transportation facilities, will doubtless be 
practised. Wheat has been grown, and with success, a 
yield of about 50 bushels per acre being recorded. In 
regard to quality, it compares favourably with that raised 
in the essentially wheat-growing areas of the Dominion, 
but as an investment it has not so far proved satisfactory, 
owing to lack of transport. 

As we wound over the northern side of this ranch the 
whir of a circular saw struck our ears. It was not 
euphonious, but it was strangely welcome. Two new 
towns were springing into existence about fifteen miles 
farther north, and lumber was urgently required for a 
multitude of purposes. Cruising round for timber re- 
vealed this situation, which, from all points of view, was 
eminently suitable for the establishment of the mill. 
There was a good wagon road, judged according to British 
Columbia standards, communicating between forest and 
market. Accordingly the plant was set up, and was now 
screeching from morning to night, rending tree trunks 
into rough boards, and so forth. This mill was turning 
the grim relics of a forest fire to commercial account, 
for the trees that were being sawn up were tall, straight 
pines, standing barkless and seasoned against the storm. 
This utilisation of such wood , which was perfectly sound , 
and far preferable for building purposes to green wood. 




is a proceeding which might be followed profitably in 
other parts of the country. 

The lonely trail was now left for good and all, since 
this wagon road runs through the valley for a matter of 
75 miles to Hazelton. The glen itself is broad and for the 
most part flat, thickly covered with tall, dank prairie grass 
and vetches. Prominent among the wild flowers was the 
tall spike of the delphinium, rearing up to seven or eight 
feet, and in the summer we were informed that the valley 
was a splash of brilliant blue from the gorgeous blooms 
of this flower, which at home is found in every old garden. 
Here it was growing so rankly as to be considered a weed. 
The aquilegia ran the delphinium very close for supre- 
macy, favouring the damper and more sheltered spots. 
The colours were more varied and gorgeous than those 
familiar to the horticulturist of Britain, while the petals 
were considerably larger. The tree growth for the most 
part was poplar, with patches of fir here and there. 

As we advanced, signs of settlement became more pro- 
nounced, but the evidence pointed to recent invasion, for 
many of the cabins were brand-new, with but little pro- 
gress to show in the way of breaking the ground. The 
usual plan was to clear just a little patch on which could 
be grown sufficient vegetable produce "to keep the pot 
boiling." The rail-head connecting with the Pacific coast 
was only about eighty miles distant, and everything was 
in a tear and bustle to get ready for the army of labourers 
which was expected to pour into the country; for these 
early settlers have golden opportunities of "making good " 
for a year or two at fancy prices with the investing force, 
the contractors preferring, when prices are right, to buy 
on the spot rather than ship up from the coast. 

A graphic idea of the gigantic character of the task 
involved in feeding some 3,000 navvies was afforded us 
as we travelled over the trail. Fresh meat was an in- 
dispensable commodity at the camps, but the question 
was how to bring it up at a sufficiently low price. Prince 


Eupert is 650 miles by sea from the nearest market, 
Vancouver, and then there was a pull of 180 miles up 
the Skeena Eiver, taking anything from fourteen to 
twenty-one days, according to the state of the weather. 
To attempt to get enough supplies from the pioneer 
settlers in the valley was hopeless. The contractors 
thereupon conceived an extraordinarily bold project. 
They would have herds of animals driven overland and 
slaughtered on the spot as required. A week or two be- 
fore we came over the trail a drove of 500 oxen had been 
sent up-country from Quesnel to Hazelton — a matter of 
420 miles — in this manner. The pioneers described the 
spectacle afforded by such a small army of lumbering 
brutes being driven slowly — about fifteen miles per day — 
by a score or so of cowboys. It was a restless, heaving 
sea of white and brown, pouring over the narrow black 
trail, through the banks of green forest, browsing as 
they went, with a midday halt for dinner, turned loose 
at night to graze, and an exciting round-up in the morn- 
ing. But no animals were lost, and the number of those 
injured by the wayside could easily be counted on the 
fingers, and so prime was the condition in which they 
reached their journey's end, that a contract was promptly 
settled for the transference of no less than 5,000 cattle 
over the same 420 miles during 1911. That herd must 
have pushed its way forward with the force of a batter- 
ing ram, for we saw at places where the trail was 
narrowest how the surging beasts had struck blindly 
through the bush on either side, trampling down every- 
thing before them. 

We had had many and varied scraps of information 
concerning Aldermere, the town for which we were 
making, and expected from the flamboyant descriptions 
to find at least a small village hustling along in the 
wilderness, such as had been brought before us at Fort 
George. But we were bitterly disappointed. On either 
side of the trail straggled some twenty frame buildings, 


including a commodious timber hotel, a large store, a 
telegraph office and a newspaper. As for the population, 
why, sixty would have been an outside census. Down 
in the hollow, about a mile distant, we could see another 
little colony among the trees on the bank of the Bulkley 
River. A& we were informed that good feeding ground 
for horses existed there, we made it our destination, cross- 
ing the river by a wooden truss bridge to a flat where a 
new town was being planned. The thoroughfares were 
cleared through the trees. We pitched our tents in the 
main street, and our camp-fire in the middle of the 
road. This was New Tel-kwa, a town without people — 
without even a sign of humanity beyond the two or three 
surveyors engaged in their plotting task. Everything 
was ready for the expected boom, for the lots were all laid 
out for a purchaser's inspection and acquisition, while a 
huge signboard perched on a low hummock announced the 
site of the hotel. 

The Mineral Storehouse of New British Columbia 

Tel-kwa and Alder mere: Rival Towns — Finds of Coal and of Metals — A 
Word of Caution — Enterprise at Tel-kwa — The Lumber Industry 
— Fortunes made in the Bulkley Valley — Summer and Winter — 
Hudson's Bay Mountain, 

Tel-kwa is going to have a big future. So say the in- 
habitants, and as they are on the spot they ought to 
know. Aldermere? — the Tel-kwan considers that "a 
by-town, a back-number, a side-tracked hill of conceit." 
The Aldermerean, when sounded on the subject, retorts 
in a similar strain to the disparagement of his rival. 
"Tel-kwa! Bah! It's a town in a swamp I A mosquito 
farm ! A proposition gone into the ditch I " Such is the 
bitter rivalry between the two places — one has not a 
single redeeming word for the other. As a matter of 
fact, both probably will take up a prominent position 
when New British Columbia settles down to hard, steady 
business, and the completion of the railway has solved 
what is now little else than a gigantic jig-saw puzzle. 
Tel-kwa, from its river position and closer proximity to 
the line, will doubtless become the commercial centre, 
while Aldermere, from its elevated situation, command- 
ing magnificent views over a most beautiful stretch of 
mountain country, and its keen bracing air, has every 
possible attraction for a residential centre. Perhaps both 
towns will go awry ; no one can say. The railway is 
the deciding point. And in Tel-kwa and Aldermere 
it was whispered that the railway station was going to 
be four miles distant. Should this be the case, then both 
towns, and also the one in embryo, may be side-tracked, 
possibly for a good many years to come. 




At the present moment Tel-kwa is a gently humming 
centre. It holds a fine commercial position, as it is at 
the junction of the Tel-kwa with the Bulkley Kiver. The 
mountains teem with minerals of all descriptions, and 
their flanks were alive with prospectors. 

The twin towns are an excellent jumping-ofE point for 
prospectors among those rugged fastnesses, and one can 
get right into the Cascades easily from here by following 
the course of the Tel-kwa Eiver, which rises in the range 
of the same name. The prospector has been exception- 
ally busy in these mountains, and rumours of great 
"strikes " on every side were rife. Here it was a heavy 
find of galena ; there one of silver ; coal abounded some- 
where else ; gold was the reward of another prospector's 
persistence ; while copper seemed to be so abundant on all 
sides that one began to wonder if the mountains were 
not entirely composed of that metal. Certain it is, how- 
ever, that lead, silver and coal exist in enoimous quanti- 
ties, and the office of the Deputy Mining Kecorder, Mr. 
Reginald Gale, an Englishman who had trekked so far 
north-west as this, was embellished with huge chunks of 
ore, assay of which had shown the presence of minerals 
in varying quantities. 

Altogether, up to August of 1910, about 500 claims 
had been allowed by the Government, so that fickle 
Fortune had evidently been kind to the "mountain 
scratchers." And they had barely touched the surface. 
When the scientific hand appears and carries out the 
search upon a systematic basis, then the real possibilities 
of the country will be revealed; but the pioneers have 
done sufficient to prove that, from the mineral point of 
view, upper New British Columbia is indeed a huge store- 
house of dormant mineral wealth. Development natur- 
ally cannot be rapid until the advent of the railway, inas- 
much as the cost of transport is so high as to militate 
against the introduction of the machinery necessary to 
mining on a commercial basis. 


The most promising discovery which has been made 
is that of coal. If there is one mineral more than another 
which will spell prosperity to Northern British Columbia, 
it is this. In fact, should the "find " come within a tithe 
of the computation, its influence will be felt throughout 
the whole of this western province. Experts who have 
investigated the discovery very closely, informed me that 
the basin extends over 28,000 acres, and that it represents 
deposits of over 1,000,000,000 tons. Should this be 
correct, then indeed the "strike " will rank as one of the 
largest known beds of bituminous coal on the North 
American continent. The mines are about 30 miles due 
west of Tel-kwa, and it is pointed out that the course of 
the river offers the most feasible route to tap these re- 
sources and to link them with the main line. Consider- 
ing that no coal has been found to the south within a 
radius of 500 miles, that Prince Kupert has to depend 
for every ounce of this fuel upon Nanaimo, some 600 
miles distant by water, it is evident that the existence of 
these reserves is destined to send the northern part of the 
country forward with a tremendous impetus, especially 
as the field is within ninety miles of Prince Kupert. 

Two other finds of coal-bearing land, west of Tel-kwa, 
have been made and are being exploited. On Hudson's 
Bay mountain a small syndicate has made a rich strike 
of silver-lead, the ore being of high grade, while another 
syndicate is operating a copper find. The mining activity 
on all sides is remarkable, and it only needs the announce- 
ment of a big strike of gold to complete the fascination. 

But everything is in a nebulous state just at present. 
From my conversations with mining engineers in the 
locality, the position of affairs may be summed up briefly 
as "offering a first-rate sporting chance." The man who 
likes a speculation has just the opportunity. The outlook 
is in his favour — certainly more promising than the 
great majority of such propositions. But to give an 
emphatic declaration that absolute success is assured is 


impossible. Only actual development can prove whether 
this or that claim is sufficiently strong in yield to be 
profitable. Very few of the finds yet made have been 
subjected to the stern investigation of assay. Until that 
is effected the yield per ton of ore, or the quality of the 
metal, cannot be determined. Then, again, the ques- 
tion of cost has to be considered, and there is no basis 
yet available upon which this important factor can be 
determined. But the speculator can be left to take care 
of himself. 

From the investment point of view one must regard 
the matter in a different way. Apart from coal, which 
is in urgent demand throughout the whole territory, 
mining companies founded on propositions out here must 
be closely scrutinised, for the "wild cat" will be let 
loose soon. These mountains, while among the richest 
in mineral wealth, are the most untrustworthy on the 
surface of the globe from the geological point of view. 
When they were moulded by Nature there must have 
been terrible ructions ; the stratification became broken 
up and twisted about sadly , with the result that faults are 
numerous, and when these occur, heavy and expensive 
work is often entailed in picking up the leads again. But 
one must not lose sight of the fact that down in Southern 
British Columbia, on the "Boundary," where similar con- 
ditions prevail, the mining industry has assumed huge 
proportions, and is one of the greatest mainstays of the 
province. Comparing the two territories, the north is 
far more attractive, and the indications are that, once 
the mining industry here becomes firmly established, it 
will outstrip the boundary, especially if the coal dis- 
coveries fulfil anticipations, for cheap fuel will in that 
case be on the spot. 

Fort George provided some interesting studies of 
frontier life in a frontier town, and those we obtained of 
life in this frontier mining settlement came as a supple- 
ment. Up on the Babines a prospector, possessed of a 


little more geological and scientific knowledge than the 
majority of his ilk, had rigged up a little assay equipment, 
so that he could obtain on the spot a rough calculation 
as to the value of his finds, and thereby ascertain 
whether the "strikes" he made were sufficiently pro- 
mising to warrant the expense and trouble of staking. 
Down by the water-side another enterprising person 
was experimenting with fluxes for the treatment of re- 
fractory ores. A third was taking time by the fore- 
lock with a vengeance, Tel-kwa could point to but a 
single street, and that only in the timber stage, while the 
new town could not even boast a tent. Yet here was a 
pioneer diligently trying to make bricks, testing the quali- 
ties of the clays found in the vicinity of the town for 
this purpose, having contrived a small primitive, hand- 
operated pug mill, and also a tiny kiln. He was looking 
particularly to the town's transition from timber to brick, 
but realised that if mineral exploitation in the vicinity 
were carried to the anticipated commercial stage, in the 
near future too, there would be a demand for bricks for 
a hundred and one purposes, and he was determined to be 
ready for the occasion. 

When Tel-kwa and Aldermere started moving, cross- 
ing the river was a difficulty, the existing bridge being a 
crazy structure and quite unsuited to traffic. The inhabit- 
ants petitioned the Government to build a new one across 
the two estuaries, so as to gain the flats immediately 
opposite Tel-kwa. The Government told the people to 
go ahead with it themselves, and they would defray the 
cost. The inhabitants set to work and built a solid struc- 
ture, of the familiar open steel type, only wrought in 
wood, using huge balks about 12 or 15 inches square, 
secured together with large iron dogs. It is a fine piece of 
substantial timber work, but it cost some ^6,000 to carry 

The lumber industry will be one of considerable im- 
portance. Up the river are some large stretches of ex- 



celleat timber, which is floated down the Bulkley River 
to Tel-kwa, and occasionally as far as Moricetown, some 
twenty miles beyond. Up to the time of our visit over 
200,000 feet had been rafted down, one large consignment 
arriving the night we camped. Lumber commands a 
fairly high price ; that cut up at the mill we passed, fifteen 
miles out, fetching £5 12s. 6d. per thousand lineal feet 
delivered in Aldermere and Tel-kwa, but cheaper at the 

The demand for lumber, though increasing every day, 
will have a great fillip when the mines get to work. To 
meet this contingency the enterprising pioneer who estab- 
lished the existing up-country saw-mill was erecting 
another large plant in the heart of the town. It was to 
be up-to-date in every respect. The saw-planer and other 
tools were to be electrically driven. It was costing this 
hard-headed pioneer a pretty penny to realise his ambi- 
tion, as everything had to be brought in by road from 
Hazelton, a matter of sixty miles, and freightage charges 
were about £5 per ton, while a like amount had to be 
paid to bring the materials up the Skeena River from 
Prince Rupert. But his enterprise was to be doubly 
rewarded. Not only would he have the most modern saw- 
mill in the district, but the town of Tel-kwa had contracted 
for a supply of electric light from the same dynamo. 

Taken on the whole, it may be said that there is a 
healthy race between agriculture and mining for the blue 
ribbon of industrial supremacy in the Bulkley valley. 
The future of the former is amply secured, but it will be 
pushed hard by its rival. The success of the mines will 
be to the material benefit of the farmers, since it will 
provide them with valuable markets for their produce 
on the spot. 

Already more than one snug little fortune has been 
made in the Bulkley Valley out of land. One old sour- 
dough came in with only some £15 in his pocket, and 
within five years of the allotted span of human life. Too 


advanced to start farming, you might say; but you did 
not know that sturdy constitution. The veteran set to 
work energetically on his land, and to such effect that 
five years later he sold out for £4,000 ! Even then he 
had not finished, for he packed up his small require- 
ments and straightway set his footsteps towards the 
Peace Kiver, determined to participate in the boom that 
was developing in that country. 

. A similar story was related to me of another old 
campaigner, who was sixty years of age when he pulled 
into the South Bulkley Valley. His land was partly 
timbered, but he knew how to wield an axe and how to 
pull up stumps. One day he was observed passing 
through Aldermere northward bound. He was just going 
out, his improved farm having arrested the attention of 
a younger man who bought out the veteran for some- 
thing like £3,000 ! In the Bulkley Valley, owing to the 
bounteousness of Nature, one is not too young to take 
up the land, nor too old to set about farming. The 
climate is ideal. Though in the summer, as we found, 
the sun blazes down from a cloudless sky and is some- 
what hot, it is not unbearably so, and we could always 
sleep in comfort, as the winds blowing from any direc- 
tion sweep the ice-clad mountain tops, cooling what 
would otherwise be a veritable oven. Though weeks 
may pass without rain falling, the ground, owing to its 
depth of top-soil, is wonderfully retentive of moisture, 
while the dews are heavy. 

Winter in the valley is admittedly severe, owing 
probably in a great measure to the proximity of the 
mountains. But the snowfall, we were told, is far from 
heavy, 18 inches being considered a good depth. The 
reading of the thermometer is occasionally low, 40 degrees 
(Fahrenheit) of frost having been notched at some 
places. On the other hand, the air is crisp and dry, so 
that, with a little forethought in regard to clothing, the 
cold is not particularly felt; certainly, in the opinion of 
























many who had come up from the United States, it is not 
so severe as that prevaihng in the Dakotas, Wisconsin, 
and Montana. 

We spent two days at Tel-kwa, one of the party, 
Russell the artist, having contracted rheumatism in his 
knee, which rendered it extremely painful, if not impos- 
sible, to ride. This development was rather unfortu- 
nate, since so far we had borne a clean bill of health, the 
rigours and arduousness of the trail , the frequent soakings 
to the skin, often for day after day, notwithstanding, 
Aldermere is connected with Hazelton by a tolerably good 
wagon road, over which plies the mail stage, covering the 
sixty miles in a couple of days, and stopping over-night 
at Moricetown, about half-way. We suggested that Rus- 
sell should avail himself of this conveyance, but with 
Scottish persistence he spumed the idea, so we resumed 
our "hike," though we anticipated that he would be un- 
able to withstand the shaking up incidental to riding on 
a pack-horse. 

By the time the Glacier Hbuse, directly opposite 
Hudson's Bay Mountain, was gained, our sick man was 
completely hors de combat, so we wired back to Aider- 
mere for another vehicle to come along to carry him to 
Hazelton. At this juncture another of the party discarded 
his ship of the bush, and decided to complete the last 
forty-eight miles by stage. Our party had now dwindled 
to five all told, and we were going strong. 

We camped in the vicinity of this wayside hotel, for 
the side journey to the base of Hudson's Bay Mountain. 
The rugged mass sheered up directly in front of us, and 
we had a splendid uninterrupted view of its mighty 
glacier. It seemed but three miles away, but mine host 
of the inn said it was fully twice that distance in a 
straight line and two more by trail. The latter, he said, 
was in first-class condition, and there was a bridge 
across the Bulkley River for foot traffic. 

As the horses could not be taken in, it was decided 


that Lett and Joe, the cook, should go on afoot, carrying 
a meagre midday meal in their pockets, while I should 
remain behind with the camp to act as cook. The two 
started off in the early morning confident of being back 
by nightfall. But night fell without any sign of their 
return, though, as the moon was shining brightly, we 
delayed turning in until after eleven o'clock. 

During the night, being disturbed by what I took to 
be the sound of footsteps, and thinking our companions 
were coming in — as a matter of fact it was the horses 
rambling through the bush — I crept out of the tent, and 
received a momentary shock, for I was half asleep. The 
whole sky was brilliantly illuminated, and, looking to 
the north, there was a reflection as of the lights of a big 
city from afar. It was a brilliant display of the "north- 
ern lights," the suffusion on the horizon changing from 
deep rich purple through greens and reds to brilliant 
yellows. The display was so vivid that one could read a 
newspaper with ease, and not until coming day began to 
illumine the east did it pale its fires. 

About eight o'clock we saw two figures come stum- 
bling through the forest. They were the wanderers, 
and Lett was just about "done up." A stiff brandy, how- 
ever, soon revived him somewhat, while a good, hearty 
breakfast completed the restorative process. Joe, being 
a man accustomed to the wilds, was in fine fettle, though 
in his broken English he confessed that "he was a bit 
tired." They had experienced a pretty rough time. The 
trail was little more than a myth , while the bridge across 
the Bulkley — well, that was a splash of frontier humour. 
After they had reached the lake and had completed their 
investigations they commenced their return journey, 
which should have landed them in the camp at nightfall, 
but they found such contradictory blazing on the trees 
of the forest that they lost their way, and had to pass 
the night, tired out and hungry, before a blazing pile 
which they kindled. 

The End of the Trail 

An Industrious Siwash — A Timely Salmon — Moricetown — The " Salmon 
Leap " — A Dispute with Siwashes — Cottonwood for Pulp ? — A Falling 
Tree — ^The Last Lap of the Trail— A Native Bridge over the Skeena. 

Having seen our invalid made as comfortable as a back- 
woods vehicle will allow, we pushed ahead. A glorious 
sunny day, bracing air, and a good dry trail invigorated 
man and beast alike, so we sped forwards rapidly. Here 
and there we saw a prospector come through the bush 
and turn his horses' heads towards Hazelton. Some bore 
weighty sacks containing the prizes they had won among 
the mountain couloirs, and which were to be examined 
farther south to determine the percentage of metal in the 
ore, A Siwash overtook us. He, too, had contracted 
the malady, and had been far into the heart of the Cas- 
cades' outer range scouring the bare sides for mineral. 
Yes, he had been lucky. He had made two good strikes, 
of which he had disposed already to his very distinct 
advantage. He was an exceptional Indian, educated and 
industrious, and, unlike the majority of his comrades, not 
above taking a leaf out of the white man's book. He 
scurried on ahead of us at the speed only an Indian can 
obtain out of his cayouse, and a little later we met him 
returning over the trail with a prairie schooner packed 
to overflowing with a settler's effects which he had con- 
tracted to bring in. Truly that Siwash was not letting 
the grass grow under his feet ! 

That Indian's second passing of our train brought us 
a little slice of luck. We observed on the back of his 
wagon a long string of big fat salmon — he was carrying 

R 357 


his fresh meat with him — and the sight developed in us 
a craving for a salmon steak, for these were large and 
more tempting than those we had seen hitherto. In the 
course of a few minutes we happened upon a beauty lying 
in the road. It was about 14 lb. in weight, and had 
fallen from the Siwash's string. From its appearance it 
had not been out of the water more than an hour or so, 
and we had a fine supper that night. The fish was all 
the more acceptable inasmuch as our larder was shrink- 
ing to a very low level. It would just about last the 
reduced party to Hazelton, but not a mile beyond. 

Though the valley between the Glacier House and 
Moricetown is narrow, there are some excellent 
stretches of arable land, and these were being settled 
rapidly. As is usual throughout New British Columbia, 
the Indians were in possession of the most tempting 
areas, and with the invariable result — they harvested the 
utmost with the minimum of effort. 

Moricetown is essentially an Indian village. It is a 
wide semicircular flat, with soil of the same rich charac- 
ter as prevails all through the Bulkley Valley, and as 
level as a cricket ground. The river makes a sharp bend, 
swinging through the centre of the reservation. On all 
sides were seen the ragged, crazy domiciles of the 
Indians, and the pure air of the country was contami- 
nated by a sickening odour of fish. Moricetown is a 
great salmon centre, since the fish in their run up the 
Skeena River from the sea turn into the Bulkley and 
stampede up this noble waterway in swarms. But at 
Moricetown they meet an obstacle which none but the 
strongest can surmount — a waterfall some fifteen feet in 
height. Here the river tumbles over a rocky ledge in a 
somewhat narrowed channel, and then surges through a 
-canon. "Salmon Leap" this drop is indeed, for when 
the salmon are on the run they can be seen jumping in 
shoals, while the water at the foot of the fall is simply a 
mass of silvery scales. 


The Indians have run out a crazy wooden platform 
from the northern bank to a point under the lowest part 
of the fall which the fish attempt to jump. We watched 
the Siwashes catching prime prizes up to 20 lb. in weight 
as fast as they could go, for as many as twelve or fifteen 
fish in the air, simultaneously endeavouring to make the 
leap, was no unusual sight. But only a small percentage 
succeeded — a large number fell victims to the Indian's 

The man's method was extremely crude. He stood 
on the edge of his platform armed with a pole. As the 
salmon jumped, his spear flew out like a flash, catching 
the fish in mid-air, and with a dexterous movement the 
quarry was whipped round and discharged on to a shelf. 
One Indian, who was evidently a master of the art, 
yanked twelve beauties out of the water, or rather out of 
the air, in a minute, and the narrow ledge was a gleam- 
ing, tumbled heap of quivering silver. As further fish 
were added to the pile, the whole mass was pushed along 
the shelf until the heap at last stretched from the outer 
end to the bank. Klootches passed in an endless stream, 
packing the fish into their capacious baskets and bearing 
them off to the curing shacks, in which, gutted and 
opened out like haddocks, they were being dried in the 
smoke. The Siwashes stand at the end of the platform 
from early morning till late at night; one man, directly 
he grows weary of the continually alternating throw of 
the pole and the haul in of a weighty prize, drops back 
to make way for another of his tribe, the round being 
kept up during the livelong day. Although the Indians 
wreak such destruction among the fish, yet large numbers 
are found at Tel-kwa, and even as far south as the 
Morice Eiver. 

We crossed the boiling waterway at the entrance to 
the little gorge, and were soon gripping our noses with 
our fingers, for the stench of the fish was overpowering. 
Shack after shack was seen crammed from ground to 


roof with long rods of kippered salmon, packed as tightly 
as possible on the length of wood, their weight causing 
the support to sag ominously. Each curing shack carried 
thousands of fish. The Indians do fairly well out of this 
trade, selling the dried produce among their fellow- 
tribesmen in other parts of the district for food, while 
it is also the mainstay of their dog-trains during the 
winter. They endeavour to dispose of quantities to the 
white men, but the latter invariably turn a deaf ear to 
such entreaties, except for feeding their dogs, since 
the fish is far from appetising in its appearance, while 
the insanitary conditions under which it is cured cannot 
be forgotten. We met more than one hale old fellow, or 
klootch, trudging along towards Hazelton with a huge 
pile of fish strapped on the back, or saddled to the backs 
of dogs, which are pressed into service as pack-trains in 
the lack of a horse. The Siwashes think nothing of 
tramping over the thirty-two miles between their settle- 
ment and Hazelton, which is another large reservation, 
to dispose of their produce ; this is somewhat remark- 
able, seeing that the Skeena Eiver Indians have ample 
opportunities of netting large quantities of the fish in 
the waters flowing by their doors. 

As we had had more than enough of Indian company, 
we left the village behind us, gaining a large open flat, 
also the property of the red man, about three miles 
beyond. Here we pitched camp, settling down to a quiet 
chat and smoke after supper, for we were rapidly ap- 
proaching our journey's end so far as the trail was con- 
cerned. Only one more night after this in the bush. 
Such were our thoughts, but the Indians came pretty 
nigh upsetting our calculations. The horses were turned 
loose in the usual manner, though we had repeatedly ad- 
vised Baker, our second packer, to hobble one of his six 
horses, for it was of a particularly roving disposition. 
But he refused to listen to argument, until his pocket 
was touched, and then he learned a short, sharp lesson. 


When the two packers set out at dawn to round up 
their animals Sam came romping in with his bunch, but 
Baker had a fruitless search which lasted three hours. 
We were having breakfast, when up clattered an Indian 
boy, of about twelve, astride his steed, and with the 
inevitable Remington 22 across his shoulder — a red boy, 
almost as soon as he can walk, is taught to handle a gun. 

"White man lose horses?" he asked laconically. 

"Yep! Seen any?" 

'"M. Indian barn." 

"How many? " 

"Four, five, six," holding up his grimy digits. 

With much coaxing we induced him to describe them, 
and it was not difficult to grasp that our missing animals 
had been corralled by the red men. Baker tore off hotly 
with the young Indian, breathing revenge, and intending 
to teach the red man a lesson for daring to round up his 
beasts. But he came back looking pretty crestfallen. 

"The sons of guns say my plugs jumped the fence 
round their oatfield during the night, that they had to 
get up and chase them out, that they got in agen, and 
at last had to be corralled," was his report. 

"Well, go and get them out," advised Sam, 

"Daren't ! The damnable coloured sons of a sea cook 
won't let them go for less than fifty dollars. Say they 
did that amount of damage to the crops ! " 

One of the offended Indians soon came up, but he 
was proof against cajolery. " Whi'e man's horses eat an' 
tread oats. Whi'e man pay. Whi'e man make law : 
whi'e man keep law." 

The Indian was right. From the legal point of view 
he was in an entrenched position, though he had over- 
stepped his powers by corralling the animals. Still, it 
was more than we dared to take them by force. 

When it comes to matters of this delicate character 
the wiliness of the Indian leaves the white man tied in 
knots. Sam was for taking the bull by the horns in his 


rough frontier manner, and having it settled by the 
tribunal afterwards: Baker was somewhat nervous of 
such a high-handed proceeding; while Lett tried diplo- 
macy. But this was of no effect. 

"Giv' me fif'y doU'r. Whi'e man have cayouses," 
the red man muttered. 

"Look here, you son of a gun. You're trying to put 
it up on me, and I'm not having any," Baker at last 
growled. "You come along with me to Hazelton and 
we'll see the Indian agent." This white official is the 
arbiter of all disputes and complaints between the white 
and red men, and it must be admitted he holds the 
balance with a striking degree of fairness. 

"Me com' Hazelton sure. See Indian agent. He see 
Indian qui' right." 

Baker argued with the Indian, vainly endeavouring 
to compromise matters. It occupied over two hours to 
bring the dispute to a satisfactory termination, the end 
being that the Indian reduced his claim for damages to 
J62, which Baker promptly paid, and came back with 
his horses. 

"Say," said Sam, "did you see what damage your 
plugs had done to the oats? " 

"No ! "What was the use? I got off with ten dollars 

"Gee ! You've been skinned clean. You bet yar life 
that those plugs war never in those oats." 

We heard afterwards that Sam's surmise was correct. 
The damage was absolutely imaginary, the horses having 
been spotted browsing quietly in the open flat near by. 
But the Indian saw the chance to turn a penny at the 
expense of the white man and promptly took it, with 
complete success. 

Wending our way off the flat, we dipped again into 
the bush. The valley closed up very rapidly now ; the 
two ranges came within a few hundred feet of one 
another, with the Bulkley forcing its way through the 


narrow gorge between. Leaving Aldermere, the view of 
river and mountain scenery is wildly picturesque, and 
the railway and high road are hard pushed to find a 
track through the narrow space, the iron path being 
forced clean up on to the mountain side. From the 
edge of the wagon road the bank drops precipitously 
into the river, and the water flows through a continuous 
series of rocky ravines. The permanent way requires a 
full hundred feet, and the wagon road demands sixty 
feet, so the two jostle one another very tightly here and 
there to get round a hump, shoulders of the Cascade 
having to be cut away in large chunks at places to permit 
the two to pass. 

The men were out fixing the wagon road, while the 
clearing gangs were completing their work for the rail- 
way, there being a scene of general destruction where the 
immense cottonwoods had been felled, and were now 
smouldering slowly in huge piles. Large groves of cedar- 
wood were traversed, but the timber was of little practical 
value, being rather small or faulty. The cottonwood, on 
the other hand, attained an immense size. It will be a 
fortunate day for British Columbia when applied science 
discovers some economical use for this timber. At pre- 
sent it is useless except for Indian dug-outs, and such a 
market is limited. The tree will reach a girth of six or 
eight feet, but the wood is very soft and brittle, splits 
readily owing to the grain, and has no durability, so is 
useless for lumber purposes. There are huge expanses of 
this wood all through the country, especially down the 
Fraser Eiver Valley, and unless some means of turning 
it to commercial advantage is found, it will disappear in 
smoke and ash. The most feasible field of utilisation 
would appear to be paper-making, and if its suitability 
for pulp should be proved, then what is at present an un- 
mitigated nuisance will become a valuable asset, espe- 
cially in view of the fact that what is generally described 
as small poplar is in reality young cottonwood. 


We had one final exciting minute while threading this 
series of gorges — the last thrilling touch on the trail. 
The road wound in a broad horseshoe round a rift in 
the mountain side. At the bottom of the dip were two 
or three cottonwood trees towering to about 200 feet in 
height. The road gang was fixing the highway on this 
loop, easing the grade, and increasing the width. In so 
doing they had undercut the support of one of these trees , 
causing it to assume a threatening cant. They could 
not bring it down for a time, since their camp was situ- 
ated in the bend of the horseshoe, directly in the line in 
which the tree would fall. We were walking along at 
the normal leisurely pack-train pace, when a number of 
sharp cracks and creaks were heard. Looking up, we 
saw the cottonwood column quivering violently and heel- 
ing over farther. The road builders scuttled like rabbits, 
and shouted to us to drive like mad. That pack-train was 
never galvanised into a gallop so quickly. The tree was 
coming over, and the question, as we could not turn 
back, or swing to one side, was whether we should get 
round the bend before the tree crashed down. The 
groaning and cracking continued, and we plunged for- 
ward in desperation, but just as we thought the whole lot 
was coming down pell mell into our midst, the lower 
branches of the collapsing giant became entangled in 
other trees alongside and propped it up. Though we got 
round safely, after an inspiriting ride, which scattered 
the pack-train in a long-drawn-out line, the outlook for 
the building camp was by no means rosy. The men, 
however, were soon swarming round their tents, fever- 
ishly making a move to a safer position before bringing 
the tree to the ground for once and all with the aid of 
a dynamite cartridge. 

That night was our last on the trail. We had gauged 
the commissariat pretty closely, for when breakfast was 
finished there was not enough to carry us through 
another meal. But Hazelton was only twelve miles dis- 


tant. Even if we had to foot the remainmg distance, it 
could be covered in about five hours, so we viewed the 
situation with an easy mind. 

That last lap was a dismal pull. For best part of the 
way the trail wound through an interminable burnt 
forest. We climbed to the high land, from which we 
could see mountains on every side, including the white 
tops of the forbidding Skeena clumps, which stretch away 
in an unbroken mass for some three or four hundred miles 
to the Klondike. As we toiled along we heard a shrill 
blast reverberate up the valley. It was the strident tone 
of a steamboat siren, and its shriek produced a strange 
thrill. It quickened our pace. Twisting, turning, and 
switchbacking over desolate country where only the fire 
weed grows, for some three hours, brought us to a sudden 
dip leading to the Bulkley Kiver, and a strange Indian 
village. Here dwells another tribe of Siwashes, far more 
industrious, intelligent, and agreeable than those we 
had encountered during our journey up to this point. 

Hag-wel-get, or Acquilget, this settlement is called — 
no one appears to know the right name, though probably 
the latter is the correct one. Here the Bulkley rushes 
through a wild canon. The channel is through the 
solid rock, the sides being perfectly vertical, and so 
smooth that they appear to have been trimmed with a 
chisel, offering no foothold for any wingless living crea- 
ture. The gorge is about 80 ft. in depth, and the fierce 
velocity of the current would make it impossible for a 
ferry to cross from side to side, even if approaches were 
cut in the cliff face for such a convenience. 

In solving the communication problem across this 
gorge the Skeena Siwashes displayed remarkable in- 
genuity. They built a bridge of logs, and what is more, 
adopted the cantilever principle, which the more learned 
white man regards as a tour de force. The Bulkley 
bridge is an interesting piece of work, and one would like 
to know how these unsophisticated natives were able to 


set up the massive pieces of timber with the crude appli- 
ances at their command. From either chff project out- 
wards two huge tree trunks about 100 feet in length, 
anchored in the cliff face, which was hollowed out to 
carry them ; on the ends were piled massive boulders and 
debris in general to a weight of about 30 tons. Two 
diagonal legs spring from beneath the anchorages to sup- 
port the projecting deck beams. The gap between 
the arms overhanging the centre of the river is 
filled by two more logs, one on either side, 
lashed to the outermost ends of the shore pieces, 
while a continuation of the shore legs is effected at 
a sharper angle upwards, the outer ends of these in 
turn carrying longitudinal members from which the 
deck is partially slung. The bridge is a true type of 
cantilever design, though necessarily on primitive lines. 
But the amazing feature of the whole weird structure is 
that the varying members are not secured together by 
nails, bolts, or screws, but simply lashed up with willow 
thongs. It is a crazy-looking affair, and when you ven- 
ture on, it creaks, groans, and swings as if threatening to 
collapse at every footstep. Even the weight of a dog is 
sufficient to set it in vibration. Yet it has fulfilled its 
purpose to an amazing degree, though white men prefer 
to look at, and not to walk upon it. Every spring the 
Indians have to overhaul the structure, and renew the 

This fantastic, frail-looking link was the sole means of 
crossing the river at this point until a few years ago, 
when the British Columbia Government, in view of in- 
creasing traffic, erected a substantial wooden suspension 
bridge across the gorge a little lower down. The Indians 
were somewhat mortified to find that their handiwork 
was regarded as unsafe, and they gathered round to see 
what the white engineers would do. What appealed 
mostly to their imagination was the cables and wire-guys 
which the whites used. They could not grasp their 


significance at all, so they came to the conclusion that 
these were merely decorations, and had nothing to do 
with holding the fabric together. Forthwith they re- 
solved to embellish their structure in the same manner, 
so they begged, borrowed, and stole wire from wherever 
they could. The wonder is that they did not go the 
length of stripping the telegraph line which runs into 
Hazelton. Securing what they wanted, they ran the 
wire here, there, and everywhere over their bridge, with 
the result that it became more bizarre than ever. At 
the same time they strengthened the bridge somewhat 
with nail and other fastenings. 

Four miles beyond the Bulkley Eiver Gorge the trail, 
now a broad road, over which a considerable volume of 
traffic passes, emerged from the poplar scrub which 
screens vast tracts of valuable arable soil. The Skeena 
Eiver could be seen rushing along , backed in the distance 
by a row of regular snow-crusted teeth — the Seven Sisters 
— and numerous other crested humps of the Cascades. 
Below in the hollow gleamed a number of white roofs, 
and there was a general air of pulsating activity. We 
had reached the end of the trail — the town beneath our 
feet was Hazelton. 

The Head of Navigation on the Skeena 

The Origin of Hazelton — The Doorway of the Bulkley Valley — Why the 
Grand Trunk Pacific Avoided the Town — Moving Incidents — An 
Indian Cemetery — The Devil-may-care Spirit — Hazelton's Model 
Hospital — The " Moving-Picture Ward " — Colonisation in the 
Valleys around — Openings for Veterinary Surgeons and Doctors. 

The town of Hazelton, in the words of the westerner, is 
a "was-er" — that is to say, it is a centre of activity 
whose days of importance are waning rapidly. It sprang 
up around the Hudson's Bay post, nominally the head 
of navigation on the Skeena Eiver, though, as a matter 
of fact, the shallow-draught boats can steam twelve or 
fourteen miles beyond. The Adventurers, however, 
determined this location to be the most convenient from 
their point of view, since easy communication can be 
maintained with the neighbouring posts north, south, 
and east, which possess no other doorway to the sea. 
When we drew rein within its portals ships of the bush 
were loading up with weighty and bulky packs of mer- 
chandise of every conceivable description, from portable 
cooking ranges to reels of cotton, preparatory to the last 
sail of the season to all parts of the surrounding country, 
one famous pack-train of some ninety head pushing off for 
the last trip into the Babines over a rough mountain 
trail of about seventy-five miles. 

Scenically the town is very a,ttractive, with its backing 
of towering, gaunt, steep mountains, while, from the 
health point of view, it is an ideal sanatorium, owing to 
its bracing air. When its days as a commercial pivot 
pass away it should yet possess a certain future as a 



health resort, and also as a tourist rendezvous, since it 
is an excellent centre from which to penetrate the moun- 
tain fastnesses on every hand. Hitherto it has been of 
importance also as the doorway to the Bulkley Valley, 
through the series of narrow gorges which we had 
threaded, the waterway to the coast, 180 miles distant, 
being traversed by steamboat or Indian canoe. But the 
railway has sealed its fate. Commercially, it was use- 
less to the Grand Trunk Pacific, since expansion of the 
town's limits is frustrated by the Indian possessions, 
which crush the white man's settlement — only thirteen 
acres in extent — on three sides, while the river is the 
barrier on the fourth. The railway avoids the town by some 
three miles, plunging through the shoulder of the moun- 
tain guarding the entrance to the Bulkley Valley. As 
the steamboat service will never be able to compete with 
the railway coming up the Skeena, either for freight or 
passenger traf&c, Hazelton must inevitably tend to decay. 

Hazelton is a combination of the end-of-steel town, 
a mining frontier colony, an Indian village, a white 
settlement and a trading centre, with untrammelled 
licensed hotels to liven things up — truly a strange mix- 
ture. But the components do not blend ; for white and 
red in Canada, like oil and vinegar, will not mix. The 
one has no use, and cherishes a supreme contempt, for 
the other. 

In winter the thermometer at Hazelton drops to the 
neighbourhood of 60 degrees Fahr. of frost, with a 
heavy snowfall, but the air is clear and invigorating, and 
the snow packs so firmly that movement is easy by snow- 
shoe, ski and sled, while the sun shines from a cloud- 
less sky for week after week continuously. One and all 
of the inhabitants told me that life then is indeed worth 
living, for they indulge in winter sports to their hearts' 
content, with fun fast and furious. On the other hand, 
the summer is glorious, there being a scanty rainfall and 
a temperature never rising to an unbearable point. When 


other towns in the same latitude, and even farther north, 
are sweltering in an oven-like heat, Hazelton is cool and 
comfortable, with the thermometer oscillating between 
80 and 90 degrees. 

Now and again there is a touch of excitement which 
vibrates through the little colony like the pang of a jump- 
ing toothache. For instance, one night there were high 
words between an industrious and more than normally 
intelligent Siwash, named Simon, aad a half-breed. 
There had been some clandestine meetings between the 
latter and Simon's klootch during the Indian's absence, 
and the red man's expostulations being met with taunts, 
he announced his intention of going home to fetch his 
gun and shoot his opponent. The half-breed laughed 
contemptuously ; but Simon acted upon his word, shot 
the half-breed through the head with his 22, and, what 
was more, slugged another resident. The hue and cry 
was raised, but the Indian and a colleague bolted, seek- 
ing refuge in the rugged mountains north of the Skeena 
Eiver, where they roam to this day with a third outlaw, 
ekeing out an existence by trapping. 

On another occasion news sped into the town of an 
Indian uprising in the Kispiox Valley, some forty miles 
away to the north. Every Hazeltonian grabbed his rifle 
in expectancy of a spirited conflict. But it never came. 
The cause of the uproar was that the Government work- 
men, forcing a road through the valley, had been com- 
pelled to abandon their task by the aggressive attitude 
of the Indians. The latter had heard that when the rail- 
way acquired land lower down the river, the dispossessed 
owners received compensation, and they resolved to take 
similar action. This was the rebellion ! The Indian 
agent hurried to the spot, explained the whole situation 
to the natives, and as the pronouncements of this arbi- 
trator are always greatly respected by the Indians, the 
episode ended in a fizzle. 

It was our intention, on gaining Hazelton, to aban- 


don the tent which for so long had been our portable 
home, in favour of one of the two hotels of which we 
had heard much. But a hurried glimpse at the cramped 
cubicle available caused us to decide right away that 
canvas should shelter our couch until we struck civilisa- 
tion fairly and squarely at Prince Rupert. Like gipsies, 
we planted ourselves upon a plot of ground belonging 
to the Hudson's Bay Company, facing the post, and 
through the courteous assistance of the factor, made 
ourselves thoroughly comfortable, since the duration of 
our stay was somewhat uncertain, steamboat navigation, 
owing to the low state of the river, being at sixes and 
sevens. Nor was this all. The monotonous round of 
trail fare was broken delightfully and surprisingly 
through the kindness of "my lady of the post," who 
evidently took compassion on a motley crowd of un- 
kempt nomads, looking more ragged than the Indians 
after a round hundred days' grapple with the bush, and 
provided us with a goodly supply of raspberry preserve 
and an iced cake, for which unexpected delicacies, in 
a land w'here bacon and beans reign supreme, we were 
devoutly thankful. 

Overlooking the tow'n, on the eastern side, is a low 
hill dotted with what from the distance appeared to be 
ornate chicken runs or fantastic summer-houses. This 
is the Indian cemetery, one of the queerest sights that 
British Columbia can offer. The Indian observes the 
death of a relative in mighty lamentation — mafficking 
w^ould be nearer the mark. There is an extensive round 
of wailing and gorgeous feasting. No matter if the de- 
ceased had been thrown on one side for some time past 
as a derelict, his embarkation for the happy hunting- 
ground must be accompanied by some sign of sad joy and 
his glorious memory honoured. The Indian God's acre 
is no carefully enclosed and trimly kept preserve, but 
merely an unfenced, uncleared strip of thick bush. When 
a grave has to be dug, the scrub is lopped from the 


desired last resting-place, and the final phase in the 
obsequies is the erection of a weird monument, wrought 
in wood. The Siwashes appear to spare no effort to 
render it as grotesque as human skill can contrive. A 
miniature Chinese pagoda or summer-house seems to be 
the most popular type of monument. 

In these strange transparent glazed mausoleums the 
personal belongings and gew-gaws of the deceased are 
prominently displayed. It may be a trunk or a dressing- 
table, bedecked sometimes with vases of withered 
blossoms. In one instance a massive gold-cased watch 
and heavy chain were conspicuous on the table. The 
embellishment of the tomb is completed invariably by a 
large photograph of the deceased, while from a line 
stretched across the interior depend mournfully the rem- 
nants of his or her clothing. 

After a monument has been erected, the sad rites are 
terminated once and for all. The tomb is left to its 
own devices ; not a cent is expended upon its upkeep. It 
stands until the ravages of rain, storm and dry-rot com- 
pass its destruction, or the rapidly growing bush forces 
the fabric apart. But the Indians, to be just to them, 
are by no means parsimonious in regard to the erection 
of these quaint structures, as much as £30 being some- 
times expended upon the bizarre woodwork. In strange 
contrast to the red man's gross neglect of the graves of 
his forefathers was a small plain marble slab, which from 
its bright cleanliness was tended with evident regularity, 
commemorating the untimely death of a young English- 
man from drowning while crossing a river up in the 
Ingenika country ; it was erected by his sorrowing rela- 
tives at home. 

The types of humanity one sees in such a town as 
Hazelton afford interesting studies to the psychologist. 
The atmosphere is one of devil-may-care. Owing to the 
mountains for miles around being rich in minerals, pro- 
specting is the first and foremost occupation, every man 




a: o 



you meet being ready to discuss some proposition with 
you. This is gold — the yellow metal "strike " dominates — 
that cx)pper, another silver, and so on through the whole 
mineralogical gamut. One and all finds are "bully"; 
the claims offered for disposal are as plentiful as straw- 
berries in summer. The two hotels were the magnets of 
attraction, to which all and sundry flocked, especially the 
prospectors as they streamed in. After being buried for 
months in the mountains, moiling for mineral treasure, 
they celebrate their return to a bustling colony where 
drink is to be had by letting themselves go in the true 
sans-gine manner. The hours of night are as busy and 
humming as those of day, possibly more so, since these 
rugged picturesque men of the wilds have a constitution 
that needs no repose — at all events, for several days 
on end. The pool room never closes its doors from one 
year's end to the other, the clack, clack of cue and ball 
being heard incessantly. 

Hazelton has a strikingly clean bill of health. The 
only malady, which breaks out with the virulence of an 
epidemic each spring and autumn, coinciding vdth the 
arrival of the mining prospectors and others from and 
for the coast , is that produced by the imbibing of alcohol , 
not wisely but too well and continuously, which com- 
plaint the medical faculty has designated delirium 
tremens. Upon a dominating eminence east of the 
town, where the full sweep of the bracing atmosphere is 
experienced, is a modem acquisition which "hits" one 
somewhat forcibly in such an out-of-the-way spot. This 
is an excellent, spacious, well-equipped hospital, serving a 
radius of 150 miles or more round, the finest institution 
of its kind from Edmonton to the Pacific, from Van- 
couver to the Klondike, able to cope with any situation 
that may develop, for it has a first-rate physician and 
nursing staff. In this hospital one section has achieved 
more than passing fame — the "Moving Picture Ward." 

It has nothing to do with cinematographic displays; 


it earned its peculiar designation in this wise. One old 
sourdough, a Scotsman, who came in from the moun- 
tains, contracted the prospector's malady, and was 
hurried to the hospftal. Shortly after his arrival a Hiber- 
nian fellow-suiferer joined him. In due time, thanks to 
the unremitting care bestowed, the twin souls were dis- 
charged. Both followed strictly an abstemious life for a 
week or two. Then the Scotsman, finding the temptation 
too powerful, one day stole off unobserved to the bar-room. 
He was on the point of swallowing hurriedly a glass of 
the wine of his country when a raucous voice yelled : 

" Sandy ! Sandy ! Phwat in th' nim of He'vin are 

The Scotsman turned, half guilty, to find his ward-col- 
league, who likevnse had been waiting an opportunity 
to gratify his desires in secret with Erin's specialty. 

"Eh, mon ! I dinna ken what you mean. Why 
should I leave it alone? Answer me the noo ! " 

"Be jabers! if ye don't dhrop it at once — at once, 
Sandy — ye'll be a-seein' th' mavin' picthures up on th* 
hill agen as ye did a month agp ! " 

Though Hazelton has been the portal to the Bulkley 
Valley through which a long-drawn-out stream of settlers 
has trickled, other agrarian country in the vicinity has 
attracted considerable attention of late. Winding away 
north of the river is another amazingly fertile belt, the 
Kispiox Valley, extending over 100,000 acres, of which 
20,000 have been reserved for pre-emption, and here the 
prospects of success are just as rosy as south of the river. 
The railway is planned to cut through the heart of this 
depression in its rush to Dawson City, linking with the 
main line near Hazelton, but this enterprise must be 
delayed until the steel channel between Pacific and 
Atlantic is open. The Kispiox territory, however, is 
already in touch with the town by means of a first-class 
wagon road. If the results achieved by the Indians up 
Kispiox way, with their primitive methods, offer any 


cnterion, then this northern valley has indeed a bright 
future from the settlement point of view. 

Energetic efforts are being made to introduce British 
settlers to these richly productive valleys. An admirable 
colonisation scheme, formulated by Mr. J. Norton 
Griflfiths, M.P., has for its object the reservation of 
30,000 acres in the Nechaco, Bulkley, and Kispiox valleys 
for the practical farmer of the homeland who aspires to 
woo wealth and fortune from British Columbia's ripened 
soil. But it is as well to repeat that only the right man 
can succeed. New British Columbia holds out no 
chances for the faint-hearted, the hesitating, or the man 
who does things by halves. On the contrary, it will break 
and crush him. The settler must pull hard against the 
collar for quite three years. Nature rules with a stern 
sway, and he must be prepared to pay her toll if he would 
gain her treasures, be they mineral or agricultural. Yet, 
despite the grim outlook, with land ranging in price from 
£3 to £5 an acre — except those stretches reserved for 
pre-emption at 4s. an acre, entailing compliance wdth 
certain laws — it is easily feasible to get a return of any- 
thing from £10 per acre upwards, and to prove up to the 
hilt the truth of the dictum of Mr. J. J. Hill, the veteran 
railway magnate, who knows this wild western land as do 
few other men, that "one good crop pays for the land 
more than three times over." 

Although farming and mining are at the moment the 
most powerful loadstones, there are also chances for cer- 
tain branches of the professions. The veterinary surgeon 
is a personality rarely seen, though much in request. 
The outbreak of an obscure disease among stock, or the 
occurrence of accident, means more to the settler than 
can be easily understood. There are openings, too, for 
enterprising medical men. A young man who has just 
graduated in medicine could not obtain a better field for 
his activities than among the little colonies in the wilds, 
where he has unique opportunities of displaying his skill. 


I was accompanied to Vancouver by a brilliant young 
doctor who had had experiences which give a vivid idea 
of what practising in the bush means. He received an 
urgent call into the wilds of the Kispiox Valley to a 
patient some fifty miles away. This in the middle of 
winter, with the thermometer marking about 60 degrees 
(Fahr.) of frost. He started ofE on snow-shoes, about 
six in the morning, with a dog-train carrying his stock-in- 
trade. By dint of tremendous effort, running behind 
his sleigh, he contrived to make thirty-five miles in 
fifteen hours, camping that night, dead tired, at nine 
o'clock. On another occasion he was called into the 
Bulkley Valley to bring a young British Columbian into 
the world. This entailed a hard ride of about 75 miles 
— the longest distance he had ever covered to attend a 
case — and it was covered in a day and a half, with one 
change of horses en route. He was dog-weary by the 
time he gained his patient's home, but a night's rest re- 
stored his energies, and he was enabled to make the 
return jaunt somewhat more easily. 

But the pay is good and prompt. Four shillings a 
mile is the generally accepted schedule for travelling out 
and home, the fee for the operation or attention depend- 
ing upon the nature of the case. For a maternity case 
£10 is charged, in addition to the mileage, and this is 
increased should a prolonged stay at the patient's home 
be involved. To increase the population of the Bulkley 
Valley by one in the above case cost the father, in doctor's 
fees, a matter of £40 — and the practitioner makes but 
one visit. My medical friend was emphatic in his state- 
ment that in one of these rising New British Columbian 
towns a young doctor could look forward to an annual 
income commencing with £400 or £600, steadily and 
persistently increasing as the town develops and the sur- 
rounding country is opened up. Accidents and births are 
two factors in life which cannot be avoided, and they offer 
a rich harvest to the medical man in a bush country. 

Down the Treacherous Skeena 

A Stream that haa to be " Juggled " — A Steamboat Captain's PhUosophy 
— A Zigzagging Channel — The " Hornets' Nest " — Fruit-growing 
— Among Totem Poles — Antimaul — ^The " Hard Scrubble " — The 
Kitselas Caiion — How the Mount Boyal waa Lost — A Halt for the 

"We don't navigate this river; we juggle our way down 

The bronzed captain standing on the bridge gave a 
grin, and nodded his head significantly towards the water- 
way boiling and rushing at our feet. 

"And if you don't do the trick neatly, what then? " 
"Oh ! we just go to the bottom, that's all. We man- 
age as a rule to plump her nose into the bank to give the 
passengers a chance to get off." 

"What happens to you if you lose the boat? " 
"They just give us another in double-quick time. We 
have no Board of Trade inquiries out here. What's the 
use? No one has a chart of the river; it never runs two 
days alike ; captains are few and far between. If you 
lose the boat it's just hard luck. That's all there is 
to it ! " 

Such is a Skeena Kiver steamboat captain's happy-go- 
lucky philosophy. It is typical of those who have to steer 
their way up and down this fiercely moving channel of 
water. These men have to learn from experience where 
the innumerable dangers lurk unseen, and knowledge of 
the position of a great many rocks has been gained in the 
Irish pilot's manner, by scraping the boat's hull over 
them, generally with no benefit to the boat ! Number- 



less boats have gone down. Why, in one year the whole 
traffic between Hazelton and the coast was tied up, just 
because every vessel had hit hard luck, and was either 
a rusting shattered hulk at the bottom or lying wrecked 
on the bank. The Indian canoe was for months the only 
available vehicle of transport. 

It is 180 miles from Hazelton to Prince Rupert, and 
sixty miles of this is tide-water. In the first 120 miles the 
water drops 750 ft ! This will give some idea of its 
velocity, which at places is awful. When in full flood 
here and there, especially at Kitselas Canon, the river is 
absolutely unnavigable. 

We soon came to close grips with the foe. We had 
cast off the last rope, and the speeding waters in mad 
glee picked up our little vessel and hurried her along 
viciously. On each side the river bubbled and frothed, 
with fringes of combing foam indicating the presence of 
sharp rocks just below the surface, ready to give a savage 
snap at the boat if she ventured too close. The cap- 
tain's telegraph rang out continuously ; the engineer never 
left his station for an instant. Clangs followed so hard 
on one another that the wonder was the instructions could 
be interpreted correctly, and without the slightest hesita- 
tion, by the engineer. 

The first twenty miles is one continuous excitement, 
the navigable channel being extremely narrow. More- 
over, the bends and twists which the river takes are ex- 
tremely sharp, so much so that the vessel cannot be 
driven round in a straightforward manner, but has to 
be warped or zig-zagged round the hairpin bend, first 
moving forwards, then backwards, then sideways, now 
drifting a little until the nose is brought into the channel 
and it is possible to strike ahead. The captain has to be 
ready to combat any movement of the boat. Where the 
rocks below him are, Heaven alone knows; he does not, 
until he pulls up against one with a sharp thud and an 
ear-splitting tear, like the rending of a piece of linen, 



which tells him that a few feet of his steel shell have been 
torn away. 

In this upper stretch the worst place is the "Hornets' 
Nest." Certainly no yellow-jackets' home was ever ready 
to let drive fiercer jabs with stings against an interloper 
than are the rocks here. The surface is merely an expanse 
of short, choppy, milky waves tumbling and fussing in all 
directions. Progress is slow, the steamer passing through 
weird contortions to steer clear of this, that, and some- 
thing else. It is a fortunate circumstance for the pas- 
sengers that these boats are of shallow draught, for often 
it is only a matter of an inch or two between a granite 
tooth and the bottom of the boat , more particularly so late 
in the year as this, when the water is very low. Two 
seasons ago one boat was pulling warily up hand over 
hand by means of the line when there was a jar and a 
scrape. Half the hull had gone, and the captain just 
managed to get the cripple beached. Another craft, 
lower down, heard of her sister's fate, and hurried to her 
assistance. But she had not gone far when there was 
another greedy snap and shiver. Her captain had to 
make a quick turn for the bank. Both lay on the mud 
within a few feet of each other all the winter, showing 
their gaping wounds, until the season broke and a third 
vessel came up stream with a gang of repairers aboard. 
They strapped up the injuries temporarily, and towed the 
disabled craft down to Prince Rupert, where they were 
propped on the slips and equipped with new hulls. Soon 
both were wrestling with the river once more, but just a 
short while before our journey one had got trapped again. 
On the Skeena hull-patching is one of the busiest and 
most regular of occupations. 

It took us more than an hour to thread the "Hornets' 
Nest." Curious to relate, the old-timers who travel up 
this river to reach the interior in the spring, and come 
down in the autumn, have the greatest dread of this 
waterway. "Give me a week in a blinding snowstorm 


on the lonely trail to an hour on this blarmed streak of 
hell," growled one hardy pioneer; "it gives me fits every 
time I see it." 

It is a lonely journey. The country on either side is 
for the most part still in its primeval condition, though 
here and there settlers are making valiant efforts to strip 
the ground for vegetables and fruit. But it is a heart- 
rending task for the most part. Tall, gaunt trees run 
down from the timber-line to the water's edge, many over- 
hanging until their branches lap its glacial surface, for 
their roots have been laid bare by the greedy water which 
has devoured the soft soil. When the next flood comes 
these bowing giants will be caught in its insatiable em- 
brace and borne down on its tumultuous bosom to be 
cast on a sand-bar. Time after time we slipped by a 
naked stripped carcase of a huge cotton wood, fir, or cedar, 
left high and dry on a strip of desolation to rot in the 
sun. There is one good point about the Skeena. It 
runs too swiftly to enable timber jams to be piled up, or 
to permit snags to lurk unseen in the navigable channel 
to trap the unsuspecting captain in an unlucky moment 
— at all events, so far as the upper reaches are con- 
cerned, though down nearer the mouth, where the pace 
eases up a bit, a "snagger" is seen searching for and 
destroying these menaces to travel. 

Now and again the river emerges into a flat stretch 
of arable country, for the most part densely clothed with 
thick undergrowth, or passes between high benches, 
where the husbandman can secure a footing to practise 
his art to a'dvantage. It appears as though fruit-growing 
will develop into the most important phase of agriculture 
down this waterway, since the trees flourish very pro- 
misingly. Yet a few years ago the idea of raising tree 
fruits so far north was laughed to scorn. But the de- 
tractors are being more than discomfited. The soil is a 
«andy loam with a subsoil of gravel or clay, according to 
whether it is high- or low-lying land. These men who are 





routing the "calamity howlers" are growers who have 
prospered well down south in the Kootenay and Okana- 
gan territories, the famous orchard districts of British 
Columbia. They have cleared tracts fringing the river, 
and put them under apple, pear, plum, cherry, and 
prunes. The results they report are fully justifying their 
enterprise, and they regard the Skeena Eiver country as 
being as well suited to this culture as that to the south, if 
not better. Emphatically they declared the fruit to be 
superior in quality. But they have not yet been in the 
country a sufficiently long period to bring the orchards 
to their full power of productivity, so that the results of 
their endeavours are not quite conclusive. "But give 
me another three years," exclaimed one enthusiast, "to 
bring my trees to their full bearing stage, and then I 
calculate I'll have the pesky southerners guessing some ! " 

We had not been going more than about three hours 
when there was a pull-up. More fuel was required, for 
the engines of these river boats are extremely hungry, 
and eat wood as voraciously as a child devours chocolate. 
Every member of the crew was soon busy hurling clouts 
of wood, about three feet in length, aboard, and the 
engineer was stacking them up around his furnace in a 
barricade. Indians and white men make a comfortable 
income in felling and splitting up this fuel, selling it at 
10s. a cord. Going upstream, the furnaces demolish five 
cords an hour, while downstream two cords less suffice 
for the same time. Seeing that there are about eight 
boats plying regularly on this waterway, it will be seen 
that the consumption of wood is considerable. 

The Skeena might be called very appropriately the 
Totem Pole River, for from end to end it threads Indian 
settlements, where these symbols are in abundance. Some 
of them are very curious works of art , with their fearsome 
carvings from base to top, many decorated in the most 
contrastingly vivid hues, and capped by some strange 
device, such as a bear, an eagle, a fox, a salmon. At 


places they are so thick as to resemble in the distance the 
remains of a burnt-out forest. Each frowns over the 
doorway of the tumbUng shack behind, and when read 
affords an interesting history of the family to which it 
belongs. The cotton wood tree is that generally employed 
for this illustrated biography, since it is soft and lends 
itself to carving. A short time before we arrived at 
Hazelton there had been a complete exodus of the natives 
to the Kispiox Valley, where the estabhshment of a new 
totem pole was to be celebrated, and the Indians let 
themselves go for a week in high jinks in honour of the 
event. On the other hand, the fall of a totem pole, 
through decomposition of the base, passes without the 
slightest sign of an outbreak of exuberance. It is lopped 
into chunks of firewood as a rule, and that is its un- 
dignified end. 

Antimaul was our first stop. A white flag was waved 
frantically on the bank to show that there were mails 
or passengers to pick up. The method in which these 
craft heave to is interesting. They speed by the point 
whence the signal proceeds as if in defiance of its 
summons. Then the telegraph rings out sonorously, the 
engines slow down, and the boat gracefully wheels round 
to plough upstream to the stopping place. The sudden 
reversal gives one a vivid sense of the force of the current. 
One minute you are tearing along at some fourteen miles 
an hour; the next you are puffing laboriously upstream 
at a snail's pace, the engines belching out for all they are 
worth to give the paddles the mastery over the downward 
rush. There is no jetty, not even a jerry-built timber 
landing-stage. The boat raps into the bank, an Indian 
jumps ashore with a rope which he deftly snubs round a 
tree, a plank is run out, the passenger struggles aboard, 
the plank is withdrawn, the hawser let go, and off again. 
The paddles have scarcely ceased revolving before they 
are called into service again. 

Another part of the river where vessels often get 



mauled badly is the "Hard Scrubble." The river here is 
about 300 ft. wide, and it looks perfectly safe to steam 
straight ahead. Not a trace of froth gives warning of 
any danger. The steamer suddenly changes its course 
and draws perilously near the rock cliff on one bank. 
You wonder why? Eight across that waterway, but a 
few inches below its surface, so calm and still, runs a 
solid bar which can only be avoided through a very narrow 
twisting passage at one end. It is just wide enough to 
carry the steamer, and no more. But the captain cannot 
steam right ahead, since there is no space in which to 
swing round. He drives the craft's nose into the caul- 
ciron, and just manages to squeeze his stern into the same 
enclosure. He then backs gently until only inches 
separate the revolving stem wheels from the foot of the 
cliff, crawls forward a foot or so, backs again the same 
distance, and so on for a few minutes, the bow being 
brought round a trifle with each manoeuvre, until at 
last there is a straight drive ahead. Once the engines 
refused to obey the captain's telegraphic orders. There 
was a grating, a ripping, and a violent tremble from stem 
to stem. The wheels had caught on a rock and were 
chewing off chunks in their revolutions as well as im- 
perilling their own structure. 

But the spot most feared on the whole river is 
the Kitselas Canon — the Scylla and Charybdis of the 
Skeena. We gained intelligence of our approach there- 
to by the officer coming round and inquiring if anyone 
desired to get off to avoid its passage. This canon has 
captured so many vessels, and has built up such a death- 
roll, that many people prefer to land at the upper en- 
trance and walk across country over the well-beaten port- 
age to Kitselas. Sometimes the boats cannot go through 
at all — to make the attempt would be certain death. At 
other times you have to make the portage whether you 
so desire or not, as the captain will not undertake the 
responsibility of carrying you through. 


Above the cafion the river is about 160 yards wide, 
flowing through undulating country backed by the moun- 
tains. Then a spur from the range makes a dart and 
cuts across the waterway, narrowing it down to a mere 
ditch, and littering its bottom with sharp rocks. Such a 
sudden contraction of the river means, of course, a sudden 
increase in speed. There are in reality two vents, one 
about 60 ft. in width, the other some 30 ft. across, but 
just below they merge into one. The speed of the water 
is terrific. " Sometimes it rattles through here at about 
twenty miles an hour," remarks one of the crew. You 
verily believe it, for in its calmest periods, such as this, 
it is nothing but a whirlpool. On one side the rocks 
sheer up, at first for about 15 ft. in ragged masses, and 
then give way to a perpendicular wall fully 100 ft. high. 

The passage of this bad piece of water is a master- 
piece of navigation. The boat can notch a steady ten or 
twelve miles an hour when driven hard. The prow 
swings round into the jaws bristling with black teeth, 
which appear ready to crush the frail humanity-laden 
shell. You are scarcely moving, when there is a sudden 
spurt — the current has clutched the steamer. But the 
captain is alert. Directly he feels its maw closing in on 
his craft the telegraph breaks out frantically. The en- 
gineer in an instant reverses, and we are going down- 
stream with the wheels revolving at breaking-point 
astern. When the wheels get up full spin the steamer 
slows down and stops, held in check by a few inches of 
steel and harnessed steam. Everything is strained to 
the utmost; if anything gives, "thar's goin' to be an un- 
rehearsed somersault into hell," as one of the sourdoughs 
aboard growled. The engines hold the steamer, though 
she trembles like a leaf. A bend has to be negotiated, 
and the captain throws his rudder hard over to bring 
the boat athwart the current. 

"This is whar we get th' shivers," the old sourdough 
went on. The water was piling up on the upper side 

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of the boat and surging round each end, for now there 
was only a narrow fissure between each end of the boat 
and the rocks, where it could make its tortuous way. 
Slowly we came right round, almost broadside on. 

"This is whar th' Mount Royal got caught," pointed 
out the sourdough. "If th' damned old Skeena swings 
us round like it did her, and banks us up against each 
side blockin' thar river, well, I guess we won't all get 
ashore." Every man on board breathlessly watched the 
manoeuvre. The Mount Royal was performing the same 
evolution when the captain, evidently misjudging the 
force of water, had the boat jerked out of his hands, 
jammed between the rocky walls, and smashed in two 
before he knew what had happened. "Lost twenty- 
seven people over that deal," the sourdough went on; 
"but the blarmed old engineer pushed his head up 
through th' bottom as she went over. . . Git yar checks 
ready, boys. All ready to hand in? Oh, we've cheated 
the old she-devil again 1 " he exclaimed as the telegraph 
rang out, the boat came round, cleared the bend and 
bounced through the rest of the gorge, with sundry knocks 
against the walls, at full speed. 

At the lower portal of the canon is a gauge. When 
it registers a rise of twelve inches in the water at that 
point, it means that an additional four and a half feet 
have been piled up at the higher entrance. And the 
variation may take place in a few hours, for the Skeena, 
fed by melting snows from the mountains far to the north , 
is a fickle river. Its behaviour is entirely governed by 
the strength of the sun during the day and by the depth 
of the snowfall at night ! 

Some distance below Kitselas the boat gave vent to a 
long-drawn-out whoop. Darkness was settling upon the 
water, and as the river is too dangerous to navigate at 
night, we pulled into the bank and were hitched up until 
the following dawn. 

Through the Cascades to the Sea 

The Kitsumkalim Valley — Experimental Fruit-growing — Majestic Mountain 
Scenery — The Grand Trunk Pacific — A Dead-Level Track in the 
Mountains — The Skeena Salmon Fishery — The Best Salmon Shipped 
to England — Port Essington. 

The point where we landed is in the Kitsumkalim Valley 
— a nook in the Cascades which has aroused considerable 
attention, among agriculturists and horticulturists espe- 
cially, for it has proved as astonishing a prize-packet as 
the Bulkley Valley, it being possible to raise fruit in the 
mountain cleft as prolifically as wheat can be grown on 
the prairie. 

The bold pioneers who penetrated this country and 
stretched their enterprise far up and down the valleys 
extending at right angles to the Skeena River, and who, 
notwithstanding the natural obstacles in their way, 
essayed to clear little spaces here and there to test the 
fruit-growing possibilities of the soil, were in a worse 
plight than the moiler for gold on the scarred mountain 
sides. They had to nurse their tender charges day and 
night, since, although the soil, climate, and prevailing 
temperature were right, the cold from the silent outer 
ring of frost-gripped country was sufficient to nullify 
completely all the favourable influences. 

The fruit-growers looked forward anxiously to the re- 
sult of their first year's handiwork. Their pluck was 
rewarded, and the twelve months' growth of the trees 
convinced them that their opinions concerning the coun- 
try were sound. They enlarged their plantations, forcing 
the encircling nipping wall of forest farther back, and as 



they did so they found that the trees first planted appre- 
ciated the enlargement of their breathing space. They 
came into flower, the blossoms set, the fruit grew and 
matured, and, what was more, ripened. When the first 
fruit from the Kitsumkalim Valley reached the towns and 
cities farther south the people greeted it with mixed feel- 
ings. Such well-shaped, luscious, and fleshy produce 
grown on the banks of the Skeena, ravaged by summer 
frosts? They could not be fooled with such a story. 

The pioneers, who had provided the surprise, did not 
waste words and time on useless argument. They have 
not the gift of persuasive conversation, as I found for 
myself, but they can work like Trojans. They were a 
trifle nettled at the reception awarded to the outcome of 
their efforts, but they were not going to be turned down 
except by Nature. But down south all were not deriders ; 
a few, more adventurous than the rest, piked up to the 
Skeena to try their hand in the same field. It was a 
mere trickle of settlers at first, but the stream is now 
commencing to swell in volume as access to the country is 
being facilitated by the completion of the railw^ay, which 
has thrust its arm a hundred miles up the river from 
the coast and plants you right in the heart of this 
expanse. Cherries, plums, pears, apples and prunes are 
being planted on all sides. And every new settler is 
hailed with enthusiasm by those already in possession. 
Each arrival signifies the clearing of a little more forest, 
and the occupation of another chunk of the hundred thou- 
sand acres of arable land nestling in the Kitsumkalim 
Valley, or its extension south of the Eiver Skeena along 
the Lakelse Lake, where twice or thrice as much land 
is available. But years must elapse before the hemlock, 
spruce, cedar, fir, and cotton wood are swept away to 
make room for trees laden with juicy fruits. 

One of the pioneers described the situation very neatly 
when he said, "Every settler who comes in here sends 
all opr chances up ten points. To us it has been a mere 


gamble. We came in when the country was in the grasp 
of the ' bears,' as represented by the knockers. Now 
the ' bulls ' are having a turn, for we optimists are get- 
ting a run on the country. They laughed at our work 
at first ; and when we showed them our apples, pears, and 
such like, they reckoned we were putting it up on them. 
But before we've finished we are going to raise grapes and 
peaches in the open air. We may be on line 55 ; but 
that line has shown wonders before, and it has not finished 

Though the idea of growing these peaches and grapes 
in the open is highly attractive, it may not be feasible. 
Still, it would be rash to assert point-blank that it cannot 
be done, for Canada has made so many pessimistic pro- 
phets look foolish. 

In order to ascertain conclusively just what are and 
what are not the possibilities of extensive fruit culture 
in these valleys amidst the Cascades, an experimental 
farm of 400 acres has been acquired on the Skeena in the 
neighbourhood of Kitwanger, and 1,500 trees have been 
planted. In all probability experiment and scientific re- 
search will result in the evolution of fruits especially 
suited to such a country as this, where they will be just as 
much at home and as prolific as are the trees raised down 
on the Boundary or around Niagara. 

Our little craft sheered off as the first rays of dawn 
tinted the eastern sky. Now all was steady thumping 
along at full pelt, all perils, except snags, having been 
left behind. Tide-water was only some thirty miles or 
so distant, and the captain was able to take advantage of 
the river's helter-skeltering swing to the utmost extent. 
In the course of an hour or so all signs of settlement 
slipped by, for we were entering the mountain range 
where the main rib of the Cascades extends as an un- 
broken barrier from Alaska to Mexico, with rifts here 
and there to let such waterways as the Skeena foam 
their way to the sea. 

i— ' icCC 


The river winds, twists, and writhes for mile after 
mile through some of the most majestic mountain 
scenery that America can offer. From one end to the 
other this range is spectacular, but here a far more im- 
pressive idea of its massive grandeur is unfolded. The 
huge humps rise sheer out of the water on both sides, 
running up at angles of forty-five to ninety degrees, be- 
decked in a rich green mantle right up to the line in the 
clouds where vegetation can no longer exist. So far as 
you can see you are in a defile, the path through which 
is the tumbling river. Only once does the barrier on 
the river side break, and the cleavage is picturesquely 
designated "The Hole-in-the-Wall." 

The verdure retains its vivid brilliance, and the pre- 
vailing expanse is free from those jagged wounds of black 
and brown inflicted by the fire fiend, because the flames 
must be greedy and ravenous indeed to lick up vegetation 
which is soddened with 120 inches of rainfall during the 
year. Among other things, the Skeena can give some 
idea of what rainfall is. When the heavens open in this 
wet belt, they alone know when they are going to close 
again. A two or three weeks' steady downpour without 
a single lift-up is not uncommon, and, what is more, it 
is none of your half-hearted sprinkles, but a deluge from 
which nothing but a sbu'-wester can protect you, and that 
not for long, for it soon gets wet through. It is the same 
the whole way down the coast ; and in the vicinity of 
Vancouver a stock of waterproofs is a safer investment 
than real estate. The rainfall on the Skeena, however, 
is no heavier than that on the Fraser at its estuary, 
though it appears to be so. 

Yet the coast does not get it both ways. If there is 
a great deal of rain there is very little snow. Conse- 
quently this region is pleasant during the winter, the 
severity of the season being toned down agreeably by the 
warm chinooks blowing off the Pacific. 

When we struck tide-water we were in the heart of 


the Cascades. Amid the banks of clouds rolling at vari- 
ous levels overhead and creeping over the crests could 
be descried dizzy peaks with their soft, sparkling, ever- 
lasting turbans enwrapping their weather-beaten heads. 
Down the steep flanks tumbled gleaming silvery streams 
to the accompaniment of a musical rhythmic murmur. 
The river journey between Kitselas and Prince Rupert 
will be one that will appeal strongly to the sight-seeing 
visitor anxious to gaze upon Nature in her wildest and 
grandest moods, for it must be confessed that, as a moving 
picture in colours, the sail up the turbid torrent of 
the Cascades for one hundred miles is difficult to excel 
in the northern hemisphere — when the elements are 

Winding along the bases of the precipitous bluffs, 
following the contour of the river, stretches the twin 
ribbon of steel which is to carry the Grand Trunk Pacific 
down to the coast. It is a marvellous piece of railway 
construction; for at least sixty miles, and that through 
the most difficult stretch of the mountains, the engineer 
has realised the greatest ambition of the railway manager, 
an absolutely dead-level track. The achievement is 
remarkable inasmuch as in no other part of the continent 
north of the equator has such a result been accomplished 
hitherto in connection with this formidable mountain 
barrier. Indeed, a few hundred miles farther south the 
other great transcontinental railways appear to have 
been engaged in a healthy rivalry in cloud-scratching 
effort. The victor in this competition contrives to scrape 
over the mountains by a ledge at a height of some 
8,000 ft. above the Pacific. On the other hand, this new 
railway in the north is content with a level of some 
ten feet above the ocean. To accomplish this end, tens 
of thousands of pounds have been poured out. Dynamite 
has been used with a lavish hand , and the amount of rock 
it has ejected forcibly from this point to be dumped in 
that runs into millions of tons. 

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On the whole of our run down the river from Hazelton, 
the rock and sand hogs had been our companions, while 
the solitude of the forest was rudely torn by the screech 
of steam, the chink, chink of drills, the roar of explosives, 
and the groaning of mountains in agony as the path for 
the railway was being torn out foot by foot. We had 
seen men with ropes tightly clinched round their waists, 
clinging like flies to the precipitous rock faces, zealously 
plying their drills, and then, when the cartridges had been 
tamped home, hurriedly whisked through the air to the 
ledges above. Once or twice the captain of the boat had 
been pulled up sharply by the warning of a fluttering red 
flag, and had treated the passengers aboard to the spec- 
tacle of rock and smoke flying into the air with a long- 
drawn-out bellow as the pent-up force of the blasting 
agent burst its bonds. 

As we drew nearer and nearer to the sea, the river 
opened out until it was some three miles or so from bank 
to bank. Signs of activity became more evident, ram- 
bling shack-like buildings standing out against the back- 
ground of foliage by the water's edge. These were the 
salmon canneries, for the toll of fish levied from the 
Skeena is tremendously heavy. The salmon fishery is 
almost entirely in the hands of Orientals, and the scene 
during the harvest is one of unwonted bustle. Time was 
when the Fraser estuary was the largest salmon-fishing 
ground on the Pacific coast, but this is so no longer. 
The Skeena river has proved a richer field , and each suc- 
ceeding year sees its importance expanding. 

Hundreds of boats of every conceivable type are 
pressed into the hunt, for the salmon swarm up the 
river in myriads. The waterway is netted practically for 
the whole of its width, and the fish are hauled in as fast 
as boats can be brought up in which to dump them. The 
fight is all on the fisherman's side, as the quarry are 
jammed so tightly together ; those in the rear push so 
hard against those in front that avoidance of capture 


is impossible. But the law demands that the fish shall 
be given their chance. For a spell of forty-eight hours 
in every week the whole of the fleet must withdraw from 
the field and allow the fish to have an uninterrupted run 
up the waterway. It was salmon that had made their 
way through during the armistice that we saw being 
caught by the Indians at Moricetown. 

As fast as they are netted the fish are hurried to the 
canneries, gutted and dressed by machinery, cooked in 
capacious steam boilers, canned in tins and dispatched 
to all parts of the world. The season commences about 
the 1st of April with the appearance of the spring salmon, 
which run up to 90 lb. a-piece in weight. But the 
harvest rises to its greatest height in the autumn. The 
other edible types are the sock-eye, bright red in colour, 
the cohoe, and the steel-head; the hump-back and dog 
salmon are of little value. The primest fish of the whole 
lot, however, is the steel-head, the taste of which is 
denied to American and Canadian, inasmuch as every 
one of these is shipped to England. The whole of this 
fish is handled at Claxton, and the fishermen are tempted 
to bring in any catches of this dainty they may effect 
by the offer of a small bounty. The steel-head is not 
canned, but is frozen entire, as taken from the boats and 
scows, and in this condition shipped to the British 
market. The Skeena salmon fishery is a respectable 
source of revenue to the Government, inasmuch as the 
canning estabHshments have to be licensed, a round 
£60,000 having been collected in this way from the 1910 
season . 

The port for this prosperous industry is, or rather was, 
Port Essington. It took its rise through the salmon 
trade, but its glory has faded. Twenty miles distant a 
new port has risen up— Prince Rupert— and trade has 
migrated thereto owing to superior harbour and other 
facilities. Port Essington has therefore drooped into a 
semi-hibernating condition; has got into the ditch, and 


will never be extricated again. The Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany utilised it as their coast depot, where vessels dis- 
charged their cargoes intended for the interior, while it 
was the sea terminal of river traffic between Hazelton and 
the coast. This trade has disappeared entirely now ; 
from a terminal. Port Essington has drooped into a 
port of call. The Hudson's Bay post was destroyed by 
fire, and the new buildings were reared at Prince Eupert. 
The end of our river journey was barely thirty miles 
distant. We pulled out of the Skeena estuary, rounded 
Digby Island, skirted Kaien Island, and were soon speed- 
ing up one of the finest bays in the Pacific, at the ex- 
treme end of which was growing rapidly what every 
citizen optimistically regards as the "Liverpool of the 
Pacific." At half-past four in the afternoon of September 
20 the alligator steamboat bumped into the quay, was 
made fast, and we put foot on the quay of Prince 

The "Liverpool of the Pacific" 

Why Prince Rupert's Turn came so Late— A Reef that was not there — 
The Pioneers— Evictions — Incorporation of the Town — A Pull all 
together — How Fortunes are being made out of the Land — A Towti 
in the Making — Buoyant Optimism — Port Arthur's Advantages — 
Fisheries — Southward Bound. 

The first thought that flies to one's mind as one treads 
the timber wharf is, Why is this port so young? Look- 
ing seawards, scanning the huge landlocked anchorage, 
nearly ten miles in length, varying from three-quarters of 
a mile to a mile and a half in width, with an entrance 
4,000 ft. wide opening on the Pacific, with a depth of 
water sufficient to float the largest ships, it appears 
extraordinary that its advantages should have been over- 
looked for so many years. Why, the shore drops down 
so suddenly that there is from 30 to 38 ft. of water at 
lowest tide alongside the landing-stage, while a stone's 
throw from the quay side it runs down to well over one 
hundred feet. The fact is that this magnificent harbour 
was sidetracked merely through a hydrographic error. 
The charts showed the bay rightly enough, and the lines 
on paper only served to emphasise its dimensions. But 
there, right in the fairway, was a huge submerged reef 
or rock ! 

Now the projection of the Grand Trunk Pacific Rail- 
way, with its severe stipulations concerning grades, de- 
manded that a new vent on the Pacific coast should be 
found. Every bay and indent north of Vancouver was 
explored minutely, and this was the only one on the 
coast that coincided with every requirement. But that 



rock ! The survey vessel crawled round and round, the 
sounding-line plumbed every foot of the bottom, but no 
sign of a rock was found. It was not there ! It was in a 
bay farther north. When the topographer committed 
the discovery of that particular rock to paper he simply 
put it in the wrong place, and it took many years to dis- 
cover the error. But from this moment the future of 
the new port was assured. 

It was less than five years ago that the first white 
men set their feet on this spot. They were a small party 
under Mr. J, H. Pillsbury, and their task was the survey 
and clearing of the waterside. It was a forbidding out- 
look. When they drew inshore and stepped from their 
boat there was an awful squelch, and their legs disap- 
peared from sight. They were up to their thighs in 
muskeg. Further immersion was impossible, as their 
feet pulled up against solid rock. Huge trees as dense 
as the jungle bowed down to the water's edge, the boughs 
lapping the Pacific. They had to hack their way ashore, 
fighting the scrub with the axe, and floundering in three 
or four feet of bog. The axe work was terrific, for in 
whichever direction they moved, trees from six to twenty- 
four inches in thickness barred the way. 

Their first task was the construction, with the crude 
facilities at their command, of a little wharf, alongside 
which small boats could pull up. In four years that jetty 
grew from twenty feet or so to a quay measuring 1,400 ft. 
from end to end ! Then the rough frontiersmen poured 
in. They lopped down a few trees here and there and 
promptly claimed ownership by squatting, ignoring the 
fact that the railway and the Government, hand in hand, 
were laying out the town, and that all ground at that 
time was their property. The Canadian squatter is a 
quaint personality. He lays claim to everything upon 
which he can place his hand, and woe betide those who 
dispute his action. Prince Kupert, however, never had 
the opportunity to become a sink of iniquity, harbouring 


the dregs of humanity, for as fast as the squatter settled 
down he was pitched neck and crop olf, and though he 
stormed and threatened, his vapourings fell on deaf ears. t 
Many of these hardy old fellows, however, had come up '■i 
just to take stock of the whole affair, pick what they 
fancied, and, by holding possession, be in a better posi- 
tion to bid successfully for the land when the sale of lots 
came round. The out-and-out squatter, however, taken 
on the whole , has been a thorn in the sides of the authori- 
ties, though he always receives short shrift. Some were 
in occupation at the time of my visit, and still living in 
a tent in one of the principal streets, on lots which had 
not been sold, in the hope that continuous occupation of 
the site for a time would enable them to establish a valid 
claim to its possession. The squatter is evicted, but in 
a short time he returns and once more re-establishes his 
canvas home. Occasionally there are stirring times in 
Prince Rupert, but special powers exist for dealing with 
the obstreperous. None of your suave diplomatic persua- 
sion, but rough and ready conflict with the axe and 
muscle. "If a man won't get out, then put him out," is 
the law of the land. 

But the feature that most impresses the tenderfoot is 
the grim determination of these Rupertians. They are a 
peculiar type of men, bent on one object — the up-building 
of their city. They'll take no nonsense from anyone, 
but they are ready to act on any suggestion for the 
common weal. Each man is like the tooth of a cogwheel 
in a machine — all work together. By such means they 
have been able to convert muskeg and bush into a thriv- 
ing, humming, prosperous colony of 5,000 people. Yet 
their situation is not by any means rosy. They are 550 
miles from the rest of the world. Every pound of sugar, 
every pin, has to be brought up by boat from Vancouver. 
Just before our arrival the town had been incorporated ; 
in other words, it was left to its own devices, and was 
responsible for its own future. One and all realised the 


significance of this independence, and were going ahead 
in the firm conviction that Prince Eupert was to be the 
greatest port on earth. 

Certainly there are no flies on these men. They are as 
a restless sea of humanity, toiling both day and night, 
striving earnestly to put things ship-shape by the time the 
two arms of the railway meet and the channel is clear 
for the cry "All aboard for Winnipeg , Toronto, Montreal, 
and Halifax," heralding the dispatch of the Trans-Con- 
tinental, Limited, on its 3,556 miles through journey. As 
to flies, it is worth mentioning that insect pests of any 
description are quite foreign to the town. A prominent 
citizen informed me that the sight of a fly of any kind in 
the city limits would precipitate a rush to view the curi- 
osity. A fly-proof town is certainly unique, especially 
as other parts of the Dominion are having fierce fights 
with the relentless mosquito. 

Large fortunes have been piled up at Prince Eupert. 
The rush for lots when the auction sale was held was 
more furious than a stampede to a region where streaks 
of yellow metal have been found. The townsite belongs 
to the railway company and the Government, the former 
having 480 and the latter 160 acres in each section of one 
square mile. The lots were put up for sale in May and 
June, 1909, and so great was the boom that over d6300,000 
was realised. This was, as it were, a preliminary canter, 
being held for the express purpose of getting some idea 
of the worth of the lots and fixing prices. The lots were 
selected from blocks here and there throughout the town. 
Moreover, only a certain stretch of land was offered for 
disposal in this manner. 

Prices fluctuated at this initial sale to a remarkable 
degree, the cheapest plot of land going for £6, while high- 
water mark was reached with £3,300 for a corner site. 
These transactions were to a great extent in the nature of 
a gamble. The pioneer Canadian town-builder is a bom 
speculator, and this was a unique opportunity, so that he 


gave full rein to his foible. And, judged on the whole, it 
paid him pretty well. The authorities did not throw more 
on the market than could be readily absorbed. Not a few 
of these first plungers made such large profits out of their 
holdings by subsequent sales as to enable them to erect 
blocks of buildings, and many a townsman informed me 
that he came up into the country but three years ago with 
only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, which he laid 
out carefully in lots, and could now point to large blocks 
of real estate bringing him in a steady income of 20 per 
cent, on his outlay. 

Mr. David M. Hays, who conducted the sales of the 
land, related several interesting incidents of money being 
made quickly. For several days after he returned from 
Vancouver, where the sale was conducted, his office was 
besieged with crowds of speculators desirous of participat- 
ing in the boom. The staff was kept going at tip-top 
pressure, and the buyers poured through the office in a 
constant stream. The waiting queue at one time was 
over one hundred yards long, and one man who owned 
property in the port told me that he had to wait outside 
the office for two days before he secured it. 

"I recall one case to mind where money was made 
quickly," related Mr. Hays. "I had disposed of all the 
lots in my hands and was returning to Prince Rupert. 
There was a young fellow on the boat who was very keen 
upon making a splash. Could I help him? Well, I had 
no more lots to sell, and was just wondering what could 
be done when I received a letter saying that twenty-two 
lots had been thrown back suddenly on the market, and 
asking me to dispose of them. 

"I went up to the young man aboard. ' See here! 
take my advice and buy Prince Rupert lots. I have 
twenty-two lots in my pocket that have not been sold yet. 
Buy some of these ; buy them all ! ' 

" ' But I haven't sufficient money ! * 

" ' How much have you ? ' 


'*' Just 195 dollars.' 

Well, look here, we'll go halves in the deal. We'll 
put up 192J dollars each, that'll make the quarter cash 
down payment, and the balance can be paid in one, two, 
or three years. Are you game? ' 

"We clinched the matter there and then, taking up 
the whole of the twenty-two unsold lots. Within three 
months I remitted to that young fellow, in cash, his 
original outlay of 192 J dollars, together with an addi- 
tional 900 dollars representing the profits from the sale 
of the lots up to that time. Thus in three months he 
was richer by about £180, and in addition to this he still 
holds lots worth £600, fbr he has declined that sum 
already. So his original investment of about £18 10s. 
paid him very well. 

"Another man came up from New Mexico and pur- 
chased a couple of lots, for which he paid £200. To-day 
they are worth £1,000. Just as he was boarding the 
steamer I caught him. ' Say, can you spare any more 
cash ? I have a good chance on my hands ! ' 

"* Well, I can only manage £15.' 

" ' Good ! Take over these,' and 1 told him what I 
had in my hand. 

"He took my word, and this was what I got a few 
weeks ago from bim," extending his hand. This was a 
photograph of the cheque the plunger had received, re- 
presenting a profit of £107 on his original £15 invest- 
ment, and that within five months. 

Fortunes have thus been made out of land within 
weeks. Lots which under the hammer fetched £2,120 
have since netted £6,000, and land which then was sold 
for £3,300 has since changed hands for £8,000. The 
largest investor at the sale was an Austrian, who bought 
up in a wholesale manner, paying sums ranging fiiom 
£77 k) £1,540. 

The manner in which values have soared is amazing, 
and the trend is still upward. One speculator bought 


a corner block measuring 50 feet wide by 100 feet deep 
fronting two streets. He gave less than £100 for it, held 
on for a short while, and when a man came along and 
offered £4,400 for it he refused. Another lucky purchaser 
paid £1,200 for a plot and ultimately parted with it for 
£2,800. In one case a plot for which £1,200 was paid 
was sold twice within seven days, the second time realis- 
ing £2,000. These transactions, it must be remembered, 
have taken place within a town which is not yet five 
years old , and where no jostling has occuiTed yet for elbow 
room. One Englishman, I was informed, had startled 
the community by his audacity. He had strolled into 
the town, sized up the situation, and had then departed 
as unostentatiously as he had arrived, after having bought 
up lots to the tune of £20,000. It seemed an insane 
manner of dealing even in booming land, but he had not 
shaken the dust from his feet by more than twelve hours 
when some of his property was commanding sufficient to 
show a profit of 14 per cent., and was still going up. 
Though it is the man who buys under the hammer who 
stands the chance of clearing up the largest profits on 
land sale transactions, yet to-day, if plots are purchased 
carefully, the investor can rely for a certainty upon a 
profit varying from 25 to 1,000 per cent., and that within 
a very short time. 

Property rises and falls in a new Canadian town more 
startlingly than a thermometer plunged alternately into 
ice and boiling water. It takes a new community some 
time to settle down. To be plumped from a far-off country 
into a town like Prince Ixupert in the moulding stage, is 
akin to buying a house when but the bare walls have been 
raised. There is only the carcase and its general lay-out 
to assist you in judging. Prince Rupert is only just enter- 
ing on the masonry stage. When I was there it had no 
streets in the civilised sense of the word. They were 
there, it is true, in the form of timber side-walks and 
staging on stilts, over which all traffic passed. And a 


peep beneath these wooden thoroughfares was sufficient 
to give a man from the east, bent on real estate invest- 
ment, a jarring shock. Nothing but solid rock, covered 
with a few inches of peaty moss to which tree stumps were 
still clinging, and as ragged on the surface as a mountain 
range. It did not require an experienced eye to see that 
street building would prove expensive. Yet things are 
going ahead just the same as if the town were built on 
level land and a gravelly soil. These townsfolk think 
nothing of tearing out a few thousand tons of rock to 
make a causeway. With such a solid foundation, the 
city, when built in masonry, will require an earthquake 
to move it. 

Everything, I found, was in a state of chaos. Prince 
Rupert, as befits the latest port, was being laid out in 
accordance with the most modern ideas. The garden- 
city planner was in possession, and he was laying out 
the town in a manner commensurate with its aesthetic 
background. Streets were being ruthlessly torn up to 
make way for a modern sewerage system, and easy 
gradients were being provided to secure comfortable access 
from point to point, for the town is built on a hump. 
Down by the waterside the mountain shoulder was being 
blown away in huge chunks to provide a perfectly level 
plane upon which a magnificent terminal station could 
be erected, together with hotels, sidings, and all the 
paraphernalia of a modern port handling merchandise 
from and for all parts of the world. The splitting roar of 
dynamite was heard from early morn to late at night. 

In the early days they were exciting times. The hub 
of activity was the point on the water-front where vessels 
called and unloaded. The quay space was being levelled. 
The shacks were of timber with shingled roofs. Suddenly 
there would be heard the strident blast of a siren. 
Instantly one and all hustled away from the water's edge 
to a respectful distance, leaving all buildings vacant. 
Workmen would be seen tumbling across the ragged 


ground as a second blast rang out. A few seconds of 
intense silence. Then a violent shivering under foot, and 
a tremendous bellow, accompanied by plumes of smoke, 
dust and debris rising gracefully into the air. All eyes 
were turned skywards, and dodging rocks as they de- 
scended was an exhilarating pastime. There would be 
heard the sharp crack, crack, crack as of sniping rifles, as 
a few pounds of disintegrated rock swooped down into the 
streets and riddled the shacks. When the citizens re- 
turned they found the roofs of their establishments per- 
forated like a pepper-box. Out in the yard were stacks of 
shingles, and soon one and all were aloft their buildings 
putting the damage aright. Eiddled houses and shops 
were the penalties exacted for being in a hurry to settle 
down in the new hub of commerce before the fabric had 
been fashioned. Strange to say, never a man was killed. 
One or two received contusions from falling missiles, and 
that was all. 

The buoyant optimism of these 5,000 people is aston- 
ishing. You ask them what they think their future will 
be when they are within railway touch of the great wheat 
fields of the prairies, the manufacturing cities of Eastern 
Canada, and the Atlantic seaboard. Their reply is charac- 
teristic, though you, being uninitiated in Canadian ways 
and methods, may consider it somewhat conceited. One 
and all are confident that Prince Eupert is going to be 
the " roarin'est, busiest city on the coast. Reckon we'll 
have 'Frisco, Seattle, and Vancouver guessin' when we 
get a fair start," they chuckle. 

They have every reason to be jubilant concerning 
their prospects. In the first place, they are 550 miles 
nearer Yokohama than is their most formidable rival, 
Vancouver, and this is an advantage which no art or cun- 
ning of man can overcome. Consequently they rest 
assured that the great highway between London and 
Japan will be through Prince Eupert. Then Alaska is 
wakening up. Its immense resources are being de- 


veloped : capital and labour are flowing to that huge 
country, and as Prince Eupert is the natural doorway 
thereto, it is confidently expected that all Alaskan traffic 
will flow through this channel. 

Nor are these the only factors. Off the coast, within 
a few hours' sail of the port, are immense fishing grounds, 
the wealth of which in halibut, herring, and cod is incal- 
culable. Vessels come to this region from all parts of 
the coast to participate in the silvery harvest of the sea. 
The shore line of the Queen Charlotte Islands, in the 
midst of this fishing area, is dotted with canneries, and 
it is no uncommon circumstance for a single haul of 
salmon to aggregate 10,000 prime fish. As many as 
75,000 have been trapped in the nets as the result of a 
single cast, so that some idea of the magnitude of the 
industry, which employs over 12,000 men, may be 
gathered. In 1909 over 18,000,000 pounds of halibut 
were caught in the waters between Prince Rupert and 
the Queen Charlotte Islands, representing a value of 
over iG200,000, while the salmon catch was valued at 

Hitherto the whole of this produce has had to be 
shipped to the interior of the continent via Seattle and 
Vancouver, but when the railway runs east from Prince 
Eupert it will be diverted into the new channel, since, 
via Prince Eupert, it will be possible to land the fish by 
refrigerator car at Chicago in the same time as is now 
taken by the vessels to make Seattle or Vancouver. 
British capital is being attracted to this industry in a 
very pronbunced degree, and refrigerating plant is spring- 
ing up around the port on all sides to cope with the situa- 
tion which will develop when Chicago, Toronto, New 
York, and the east generally, have a new vent on the 



The twinkling lights of Prince Eupert were rapidly 
slipping below the horizon as the Prince Rupert throbbed 


up the harbour. The white snow-cap of Mount Hays, 
standing sentinel over the harbour, and forming a solid, 
sombre background to the bustling community at its 
base, floated like a cloud in the clear firmament illumined 
by the red, purple, amber and green of the Northern 
Lights. The last of the bright yellow stars, drawn out in 
a long, thin line, dancing on the water and marking the 
navigable channel, glided astern. We gave a sharp turn 
as we gained the open Pacific to enter the inland pas- 
sage, and were soon ploughing through wildly picturesque 
fjords wrapped in a silence that could be felt, the steamer 
feeling its way by the echoing of the siren from headland 
to headland. We were southward bound for Vancouver, 
Victoria and Seattle. The deadfall-littered trail, the rush- 
ing waterways, the little communities rising in the wilder- 
ness, and the silent wilds through which we had wan- 
dered for some 1,200 miles, were all left behind. The 
bewitching call of the wild was still sounding in our 
ears. But for us the alluring cry was in vain. 


Acquilget, 265 

Agriculture at Stoney Creek, 206 

in Bulkley Valley, 240, 243. 253 

in Nechaco Valley. 193, 194, 196 

(see also Farming et passim) 

Albrejda Pass. 121 

Alcohol, prohibition of, at " End-of- 

Steel " 7 
Aldermere, 'l31. 246. 248 
Alfalfa at Stoney Creek, 207 
Amery. Mr. L. S., 113 
A-mo, Indian boatman, 130 
Antimaul, 282 
Ashcroft, 163 
Athabaska Elver. 53, 82. 92. 93 

Valley, meadowland in. 66 


Babine Lake. 227, 231 

Mountains, 231, 242 

Baker, the packer. 260, 261 
Bald-headed eagles on the Fraser. 140 
Bannock, 36, 95 

Bear-shooting on the Fraser. 138 

Bella Coola, 225 

Bednesti Meadows, 191 

Big-Eddy. 20 

Bobtail. 205 

Bog-holes, 20 

Bridge-building, 13, 35 

Brown, Joe, 40 

Brule Lake, 66 

Bulkley Divide. 232 

River, 235, 243 

Valley, 230. 236, 243. 253 

farming in, 238 

fruit-growing in, 241 

BuUrush Mountain, 67 
Burns Lake. 222. 224, 225 
Bush, clearing the. 133 

fires, 50. 183 

hospital, 58 

hotel, 40 

storms, 53 

Canoe River, 121 

Canoeing on the Fraser. 128. 141 

Cariboo Road, 163 

Cascade Mountains, 242. 286, 288 

Catering in the bush. 40, 55 

Cedarwood, 263 

Celery-growing at Stoney Creek, 

Cheslatta Lake, 214, 226 

Chilako River. 189 


Clark, William. 233 

Clearing the bush, 133 

Coal deposits at Aldermere, 249, 250 

at Roche Miette, 71 

— at Tel-kwa, 249, 250 

Colin Mountains. 91 
Colonisation scheme. 275 
Columbia River, 120 

Cooks, demand for, in the bush. 25 

wages of, 25 

Corralling horses, 60, 62, 261 
CVjttonwood, 263 

Creeks, 20 

Crooked River, 157 

Crossing Athabaska River, 82 

— Moose River, 107 

Daniels, Mr. J. B.. 174 
Decker Lake. 226 
Denis. Indian boatman. 131 
Derr Creek, 95, 96 
Digby Island, 293 
Distances Canadian, 108 
Doctors, demand for, 276 
Dominion Prairie, 95 
Drystone Creek, 66 
Dug-outs. Indian. 128 


Eagle Pass, 101 

Eagles on the Fraser, 140 

Edmonton, 1. 39 

Edson, 12, 30 

land values at, 33 

Endako River. 219 
End-of-Steel town, 1 
Engineers, openings for, 29 
Essington, Port, 292 

Farming at Fort George. 173 

future of, in Mud River Valley, 


in Bulkley Valley, 238 

prospects of. near Fraser Lake, 


(gee also Agriculture et pas»im) 

Fiddle Back Mountains, 76 

Creek, 66, 69 

hot springs at, 70 

Fire warden on the Praaer River, 136 
Fires, bush, 183 
results of, 50 




Fish Lake, 79 

Fishing grounds ofl Prince Bapert. 

Folding Mountain, 66 
Fort Fraser, 212, 213 

George, 159. 160. 161 

commercial position of, 161 

cost of food at. 169 

farming at, 173 

land purchase at, 171, 181 

prospects of, 161 

streets at, 165 

St. James. 165, 213 

Francois Lake. 226 
Fraser Lake, 214 

farming prospects near. 219 

Eiver. 102. Ill 

canoeing on. 128, 141 

Valley, prospects of, 134, 136 

Simon, 103 

Fruit-growing in Bulkley Valley, 241 

in Kitsumkalim Valley, 286 

in Skeena Valley, 280 

wild, at Stoney Greek. 203 

in Bulkley Valley, 231 


Gale, Mr. Reginald, 249 

Game warden on the Fraser Eiver. 

Geikie. Mount. 81, 91 
Oiscombe, 156 

Portage, 157 

Eapids, 157 

Glacier House, 255 

Glaciers on Mount Eobson, 113 
GIucuIb Lake, 193 
Goat Eapids, 143 

Eiver, 143 

Grand Oaflon, 147 

Fork. 117 

Trunk Pacific Eailway, 2, 26. 35. 

57. 269. 290. 294. 297 et passim 
Grant Brook. 104 
Gregg, the old pioneer, 64 
Griffiths. Mr. J. Norton, M.P., 275 

HaB-wel-get, 265 

" Hard Scrubble," Skeena River, 283 

Hardisty Creek. 56 

Mount, 57 

Hawes, Jasper, 77, 100. 118 
Hay at Stoney Greek. 206 

in Bulkley Valley. 243 

in Nechaco Valley. 193, 196 

Hays, Mr. David M.. 298 
Hazel ton. 267. 268. 269 
Helena, Lake, 115 

Hikers. 54, 117. 228 
Hole-in-the-Wall. 289 
" Hornets' Nest," Skeena River, 279 
Horses, loading. 37 

roving tendencies of, 36 

Horse-stealing by Indians, 60, 62. 261 
Hospital at Haielton, 273 

in the bush. 58 

Hot springs at Piddle Creek. 70 
Hotel in the bush, 40 

Hudson's Bay Company. 63. 77 
Mountain. 250, 255 

Indian outlaws. 270 
Indians, 200, 202 

horse-stealing proclivities of. 60. 


Jasper Lake, 76 

National Park, 63 

fauna in, 64 

flora in, 65 

game warden of, 66 

sealing of firearms in. 

Joe, the cook, 256 
Journalism at Fort George, 174 

Kaien Island, 293 
Keller, Ernest, 119 

experiences of, 123 

Kicking Horse Pass, 101 
Kinney, Rev. B. M., 114 
Kispiox Valley, 270. 274 
Kitselas Canon. 278. 283 
Kitsumkalim Valley, 286 

fruit-growing in, 286 

Kitwanger, 288 
Klootchmans. 158 
Kootenay, 281 

Labour in New British Columbia. 
4. 21. 27. 29. 166. 172 et passim 
Lake Francois, 226 
Helena, 115 

Totuk. 189 

Lakelse Lake. 287 
Laketown. 208 

Le Barge, 199, 212 
Lead at Aldermere. 249 

at Tel-kwa. 249 

Lefort, Vital, the ferryman, 211 

experiences of, 211 

Lett. Mr. Robert C. W. 97. 232. 256 

Little Smoky River, 136 

Lonely trail, 92 

Louis, Indian boatman, 130. 132 

Lumber industry at Aldermere, 253 

at Tel-kwa. 252, 253 

on Bulkley River, 253 

McGlennan River, 121 
Mclnnes brothers, 236 

experiences of, 211 

ranch of. 236 

Mackenzie River, 157 

the pioneer, 55 

Mackenzie's hotel, 115 
McLeod River. 13, 15, 44, 46, 52 




McLeod VaUey. pasturage in. 45 

Medical men. demand for. 276 
Medicine Lake, 91 

S?i..'"aiu.'5ir »..^^in MIC. 
Mountain region. 122 

at Aldermere. 249 

at Bazelton. 272 

at Tel-kwa. 249 

in Babine Range. 231 

in Bulkley Valley. 253 

Moberly'B Pass. 100 

Moose Lake, 107 

f^ River. 105, 106 

crossing the, lU' 

Morice Biver ^42 

Moricetown. 242. 258 

MosQuitoes. 142 

Mount Geikie, 81. 91 

Hardisty. 57 

EobscJn, 112 

Peelee, 102 

Thompson, 120 

Mud Eiver. 189 

MuBkeg, 27, 47. 48. 81. 234 


Naltesly Lake. 189 

Nanaimo, 250 

Nechaoo Eiver, 158, 160. Ibl 

Valley. 190 

Noolki Creek, 210 

2 Lake, 204. 208, 210 

North Fork Eiver. 152 

Thomson Eiver. 1^1 _„ 

North-West Trading Company, 63, n 

Oats at Stoney Creek. 206 
__ in Bulkley Valley. 244 
Okanagan. 281 
Ootaa Lake. 189. 226 
OutlawB. 270 

Pack-horsea. 17 ^^ 

ZZ Itrain° crossing Athabaska Eiver. 

management of. 17 

Parsnip Eiver, 157 ,, 

PMturage in Athabaska Valley. 56 

1 in McLeod Valley. 45 

Peace Eiver. 157 

. Pass. 100 

Peelee Mount. 102 

Pillsbnry. Mr. J. H- 295 

Pine Eiver Pass, 100 

Pioneer Eanch. 236. 24i5 

Pioneers. 18 

Port EsBington 292 „,» ,43 

Potatoes in Bulkley Valley, 240. i-^a 

Prairie Creek. 57 

Prince Rupert,. 293. 294 

building of, 295. 301 

land values at. 297. 300 

streets at. 300 

Queen Charlotte Islande. 303 
Queanel. 164. 195 


Eailway construction, 4. 26. 57. 290. 

291 et posstm. 
Eainbow Mountains, 106, 108. UO 
Eainfall in Endako VaUey, 219 
__- in Praser Eiver Valley. 141 

in Nechaco Valley. 192 

Eanch of the Mclnnes brothers. 236 

near Fraser Lake, ii-i 

Eau Shuswap Eiver. 137 
Eobson, Mount, 112 
Roche Miette. 71, 73 

coal deposits at, n 

Eocky Eiver, 76 78 

Roger's Pass, 100 „,, 

Ruisell. Mr. G. Home. 143. 255 


Salmon curing, 258. 292 

_- fishing. 258. 291. 292 

" Salmon Leap," 258 

Sam, the packer, 179. 232. 233 

Saskatoon, boom at. 14 

Selkirk Mountains, lil ... 

Settlements outside Fort George. 181. 

Shooting Goat Rapids 143. 144 

Grand Canon. 147 

Silver at Aldermere, 249 

at Tel-kwa. 249 

Siwash Indians 130 204, 257 
Skeena River. 268, 277 . . 

Valley, fruit-growing m. ZBO 

Snaring River, 76 

Soda Creek, 163 

South Babine district. 227 

Bulkley telegraph station. Hi 

Starvation Flat, 122 
Station-men, 26 
Stella, Indian village. 219 
Stoney Creek. 202 

agriculture at, 205 

celery-growing at, zu/ 

Storms in the bush. 53 
Streets at Fort George. 165 
at Prince Eupert, 300 

Stuart Lake. 165. 213. 227 
Eiver, 165. 214 

Summit Lake, 157 

Surgeons, demand for, z/o 

Surveyors at work, 137 



Swift Current, 117 

the frontiersman, 83, 84 

Swine in Bulkley Valley, 241 

Tachick Lake. 208. 210 

Team of horses, management of. 20 

Teamster, life of a. 21 

Telegraph linesmen, 221 

operators. 224 

Telephone at Fort George, 177 
Tel-kwa, 248 

Kiver, 249 

Tete Jaune Cache, 118 
Thompson, Mount, 120 
Timber round Gluculz Lake, 193 

in Skeena Valley, 280 

-jam, 130 

Totem poles, 281 
Totuk Lake. 189 
Trail, difficulties of, 38. 47 

how to walk along, 38 

lonely, 92 

Trout, abundance of. 92, 102, 116 
Tsinkut Lake, 196. 201. 210 
Turnips in Balklcy Valley, 240 

Upper Nechaco River, 214 


Vital Creek, 212 


Wapiti Pass. 100 

Wheat in Bulkley Valley. 244 

" White Mud," 40 

Williams. George. 127. IJl 

Wilson, the frontiersman. 124, 125. 

Wolf Creek. 1, 3 
Wood-cutting in Praser Eiver Valley. 


Yellowhead Lake, 101 

abundance of trout in 102 

Pass, 94. 99 

derivation of, 100 

Tukon telegraph, 197, 198, 223 

Printbo sy Casseu. & Company, Limitbd, La Belli Sauvagb, London, E.G. 


JUL 1 1 198 

3 ♦xj 
CD »1 

03 H